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District's MPs divided on smoking ban in cars
The district’s MPs were split this week as the Commons voted to ban smoking in cars when children are passengers.
One of the district’s MPs joined with the majority – and with the hundreds of doctors and medical experts – who argued the measure is badly needed to protect children’s health.
But others, while agreeing it was wrong to smoke in front of youngsters, insisted a ban was unenforceable, expensive and an attack on freedom.
Nevertheless, the amendment introducing the ban – first passed in the Lords – was passed.
Tory and Liberal Democrat MPs, who were given a free vote, joined forces with Labour MPs to approve the ban by 376 votes to 107, a majority of 269.
Greg Mulholland (Lib Dem, Leeds North West) said: “I voted in favour of banning smoking in cars with children present.
“The statistics are shocking – 300,000 children every year visit their doctor because of an illness linked to second-hand smoking, and the toxic effects of smoking in a car are 11 times worse than in open space.
“This is also an issue of child protection – children are particularly vulnerable to passive smoke and are more likely to develop respiratory illnesses as a result.
“We must also remember that while adults are able to make their own lifestyles choices, children are not, and I am glad that Parliament voted overwhelmingly to protect children in Leeds and across the country.”
Pudsey MP Stuart Andrew voted against the ban. The MP, who used to work for a children’s hospice, said: “I voted against banning smoking in cars as I am not convinced that this legislation is adequate and it is a too simplistic attempt at a solution that will not work and result in extra strain on the police force who will be required to enforce this.
“I have seen first-hand children suffering from terminal cancer and believe that banning smoking in cars does not begin to address potential effects from second-hand smoke as adults smoke in flats, caravans and other confined places where children are present.
“I believe educating people on the damage being caused to children by adults who smoke in any place around them is the only answer.”
Ilkley Conservative MP Kris Hopkins voted against the ban.
He said: “It must be about individual choice, particularly in private spaces such as in the home or in the car.
“I believe we concentrate efforts on educating parents on the dangers of smoking in the presence of children and the damage this can cause.
“Also I fear a ban would be unenforceable and costly for taxpayers, given the likely drain on police resources.”
Menston and Burley-in-Wharfedale MP Philip Davies also voted against, saying the move was just “another in the long line of triumphs for the nanny state”.
He said: “I believe that parents are much better placed to decide what is best for their children than the state is. If we want to encourage parents to take responsibility for their children, we have to give them that responsibility.
“We will never get parents to do that if the Government say ‘Don’t worry about taking responsibility for your children, because we will make all the relevant decisions for you. You don’t have to worry about anything’.”