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article imageOp-Ed: Will the U.K. be able to ban smoking in cars with children?

By Karen Graham     Feb 10, 2014 in Health
For years the public has been aware of the dangers to our health from using tobacco products. In recent years, we have also come to realize there is no safe exposure level to secondhand smoke, not only for adults, but for our children.
The United Kingdom will more than likely pass a ban today making it illegal to be caught smoking in a car carrying children. The proposed ban was brought before Parliament by the Labour party, and was affirmed by the House of Lords last month.
The proposed ban has caught the interest of both Parliament and the public, creating a heated debate over public health and individual freedoms. Proponents of the ban, along with 700 senior doctors say children confined in a car with smokers increased the harm done by cigarette smoke.
Opponents of the ban point out that the state is going too far, dictating what individuals do in their private lives. Prime Minister David Cameron has even questioned the feasibility of upholding the restriction on smoking in a vehicle, saying people should choose to not smoke while driving with children.
The issue will become a moot point because the ban is expected to pass with Labour backing the issue in the House of Commons, and Coalition MP's being given a free vote. The Prime Minister will not be present for the voting, pointing out the need to visit flooded areas. If passed, the U.K. will join several other countries, including Canada and Australia, banning smoking in cars when children are present.
But the feeling by many that their individual liberties are being taken away is difficult to digest. Boris Johnson, writing for the Telegraph, was very succinct in his column when he spoke of privacy in our homes and cars as being the last "bastions of liberty." He cited his public objections to everything, from warning labels on wine bottles to booster seats for children under a certain height.
While some of these objections may seem ludicrous to many, the point he was trying to make is really very simple: Just how much power is the government allowed to have in dictating what we may or may not do in the privacy of our own vehicles, or for that matter, our homes. Johnson pointed out how silly it was to not be allowed to smoke in a car with your children present, but it was alright to smoke in the kitchen with them sitting at the table.
While Mr. Johnson makes some good points in opposition to the ban, everyone should consider what's best for all of us, not just our children. Trying to breathe in a smoke-filled room or in the confines of a smoke-hazed vehicle is not very pleasant, nor conducive to good health.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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