Stony Stratford, population 12,000 and styling itself the "Jewel of Milton Keynes", could become the first town in Britain to ban smoking in the street.

A campaign has been launched to give community police the power to issue on-the-spot fines for those who light up in public. It follows the decision in New York to ban smoking in public parks.

The proposal has won backing from some members of the town council, including Paul Bartlett who asked: "Why should people have the freedom to smoke in my face, pass on diseases and spoil the environment?"

The demand came as the British Medical Association voted at its conference to ban smoking in cars with children inside. Douglas Noble, a public-health expert, said: "In cars, particle concentrations are 27 times higher than in a smoker's home. It would be safer to have your exhaust pipe on the inside of your car than smoke cigarettes, in terms of fine particular matter released."

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