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The British Medical Association (BMA) has called for ministers to forge ahead with a "bold and courageous" ban on smoking in cars based on the health risk for passengers, rather than on the basis of road safety.
According to the BMA, toxins inhaled from smoke in a closed vehicle could be 23 times higher than in a smoky bar and it has warned that children and the elderly are particularly at risk.
Children not only absorb more pollutants than adults but their immune systems are unable to cope with second-hand smoke in the same way, putting them at greater risk of smoking related health issues.
Similarly, the elderly are more prone to respiratory problems that may be exacerbated by passive smoking. Both such vulnerable groups may feel unable to refuse to travel in smoky cars, the BMA adds.
The claims come ahead of the second reading of a Private Members' Bill calling for a smoking ban in vehicles when children are present.
Dr Vivenne Nathanson, from the BMA, explained, "Every year in England there are more than 80,000 deaths that are caused by smoking. The UK made a huge step forward in the fight against tobacco by banning smoking in all enclosed public places but more can still be done."
However, Simon Clark or smokers' campaign group Forest, insists, "There is no justification for a ban in cars, with or without children present."
The issue and the planned bill is expected to be hotly debated on November 25.
What do you think - should smoking be banned in all vehicles? Leave your comments below...