UK Doctors Stand Against Smoking

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With a purpose of protecting the general health of the public, most particularly the elderly and the children, the British Medical Association is calling for a total prohibition on smoking in private motor.
In a press statement issued on Wednesday, the voluntary professional association, which counts two-thirds of practicing UK doctors among its members, said it has prepared a briefing paper that shows how people are vulnerable to the toxic effects of second-hand smoke in cars. Cigarette smoking causes many harmful diseases in the body not only to the person smoking it, but also to the one inhaling the smoke of the cigarette. The later is called secondhand smokers that alarmingly harbor more detrimental health problems than the primary smokers.

The BMA’s Board of Science produced the briefing paper in response to a motion debated at the association’s 2011 Annual Representative Meeting, where members overwhelmingly supported the call for legislation to ban smoking in private motor vehicles.  Vivienne Nathanson, director of professional activities at the BMA, said the UK took a “huge step” in banning smoking in enclosed public places, but it can do more. “We are calling on UK governments to take the bold and courageous step of banning smoking in private vehicles. The evidence for extending the smoke-free legislation is compelling.” said the proponents. “An estimated hundreds of thousands of people around the world, including 4,000 adults and 23 children in the UK, die each year because of second-hand smoke”, says the briefing paper. It also contains information on how second-hand smoke can posts harm to the public specially the children that has an under developed immune system and a smaller body. Second Hand smoke can even produce up to 23 times higher toxic level than those in the bight out bars. Elderly are also part of the vulnerable group that can be majorly affected by the second hand smoke. Because of the age, they are debilitatingly at risk of acquiring respiratory diseases that smoking can aggravate. Also, smoking distracts the drivers that can lead to potential road safety hazard.

Keith Reid, co-chair of the BMA public health medicine committee, said that it can be appreciated if the state stands on its responsibility in protecting the children by letting the public know that smoking harms not only the smokers but more aggressively, the vulnerable. “The evidence suggests that the most feasible way to accomplish this is to implement a complete ban on smoking in motor vehicles,” said Reid.

In taking part of the said problem, The House of Commons All-Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health is currently reviewing changes in existing legislation to reduce levels of smoking. According to the BBC, they said “calling for an immediate ban on smoking in cars could be “counterproductive”, and it was necessary to build consensus around the country first. Part of such a process should be a consultation phase that asks whether it is better to have an outright ban or whether more can be done through awareness and education.”

The bill is scheduled to have its second reading this week. Douglas Noble, who chairs the BMA’s Public Health Medicine Committee, said he hoped there would be ample time for the bill to be heard. The smokers’ lobby group Forest has spoken out against a ban. Director Simon Clark said they “don’t condone people smoking in cars with children present”, because it is “inconsiderate”, but they don’t agree that the evidence shows there is a serious risk to children’s health from second-hand smoke in cars”. “Legislation is a gross over-reaction. What next, a ban on smoking in the home?” said Clark.

The process is still going through and the actions are being taken hoping to protect the children and the vulnerable group.




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