Smoking in cars with children
February 13, 2014 4 Comments
If you were to ask me whether I thought it was a good idea to smoke in a confined space in front of children I would reply ‘no’. I think you should not smoke in front of anyone who is either unable to ask you to stop, or who cannot walk away.
I am an ex-smoker; I smoked my last cigarette on 19th February 1982. I had cut down to ten a day, wanting to give up, when I started dating the non-smoking Petrina. I really enjoyed smoking, but I wanted a long, healthy life more.
MPs have voted in favour of banning smoking in cars with children present. I have my doubts, and it is not because I want to condemn youngsters to suffer the effects of passive smoking. There are many things we do in front of the kids that have the potential to adversely affect their future.
What about eating fatty foods in front of the children, swearing, not flossing regularly, or exceeding the recommended limit of three or four units of alcohol (dependent on gender) when the sprogs are about? The list is almost endless, and yes, it could easily get very silly.
I try to be a libertarian and (perhaps naively) think that much can be solved by education. I take the point that this ban is not about individual responsibility and is about not inflicting a harmful habit and those who cannot do anything about it themselves. However, we are seeing smoking declining to a fraction of what it was when I was born. Since smokers are a shrinking band, is legislation necessary?
My parents gave up smoking when I was on the way – and such was the climate then that this was a decision driven by economics rather than health considerations. The 1950s saw smoking promoted as being good for you. Only a fifth of the population now smoke; when I smoked you could get ashtrays from the office stationary cupboard. I so rarely find myself in the presence of smokers that I now actually notice them, when in my youth it was entirely unmemorable because it was so common.
Whilst I wonder whether we need to legislate for an increasingly rare event, I appreciate that there is an opposing argument that this is the best time to legislate. However, do we want to regulate every aspect of our lives?
Is a ban is enforceable even? I still see texting drivers in the overtaking lane of the A127 – quite a few years after any use of a mobile (other than hands free) whilst driving was banned.