Smoking in cars in which children are present will be illegal in England from October 1, with offenders facing the prospect of a £50 fine, following a House of Commons vote.
East Sussex County Council is backing a national campaign to coincide with the law change, highlighting the risks of exposure to second-hand cigarette smoke on children.
The campaign, which features advertisements on television, radio and online, highlights the fact parents are often unaware of the damage smoking in the home and car causes to children’s health, and encourages them to quit.
Cynthia Lyons (pictured), East Sussex acting Director of public health, said: “The new legislation is a welcome and long-overdue step to protect children from the effects of second-hand smoke.
“Children are more vulnerable than adults to the health problems associated with breathing in smoke, but are often too young or if older reluctant or embarrassed to speak out to ask their parents to stop.
“People might not realise that more than 80 per cent of smoke is invisible and odourless, and opening windows and doors does not remove its harmful effect.
“We would urge people who do smoke in cars, or in the home, when children are present not to wait until the new legislation comes into force but to act now to protect their children’s health.”
An estimated three million children in England are exposed to second-hand smoke in their family car, putting them at increased risk of serious conditions including respiratory infections, meningitis and asthma.
Meanwhile, the effects of second-hand smoke on children lead to an estimated 300,000 GP consultations and 9,500 hospital admissions every week.
In East Sussex, where smoking kills around 1,000 people each year, help is at hand for those who want to kick the habit.
People can call 0800 6226968, by texting smokefree to 66777 or go online at www.stopsmokingineastsussex.co.uk
Number of smoking related deaths per year
Eastbourne – 202
Hastings – 184
Lewes – 176
Rother – 206
Wealden – 276
East Sussex total – 1,044
Source: Health Profiles 2012 (Public Health England)