Fearghal McKinneySDLP Deputy Leader and Health Spokesperson Fearghal McKinney MLA will today attempt to ban smoking in cars with children.

The south Belfast MLA has tabled an amendment to the Health (miscellaneous provisions) Bill that will make it an offence to smoke in an enclosed vehicle with children present, punishable by a Fixed Penalty Notice.

Mr McKinney said: “Smoking is the single greatest cause of preventable illness and premature deaths in Northern Ireland.

“Each year, up to 2300 people will die here as a result of a smoking-related illness.

“That’s why it’s critical that we take action, not only to help those who do choose to smoke but to protect those who have no choice.

“All of the evidence shows that children are much more susceptible to illness as a result of second-hand smoke.

“Kids breathe more rapidly meaning that they inhale more of the 4000 chemicals found in cigarette smoke, many of them toxic and at least 50 carcinogenic.

“That means they’re more at risk of developing respiratory tract infections, bronchitis, middle ear disease or sudden infant death syndrome.

“Our amendment to the Health Bill in the Assembly will ban smoking in an enclosed vehicle with children present. This isn’t about telling people how to raise their kids, it’s about protecting our children from preventable illness.

“We’re proposing that the new offence be dealt with by way of a fixed penalty notice. The aim of this legislation is to change habits in the same way that the 2007 smoking ban or the ban on using mobile phones in cars has done.

“I’m hopeful that we can achieve cross-party support for this and that all parties will act to protect children from the dangers of second-hand smoke,” he added

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