Smoking should be banned in cars carrying children on “child-welfare” grounds, the Public Health minister Anna Soubry has claimed.
The mother of two daughters, who is herself a former smoker, said the move could be justified and should be considered by the Government.
The Prime Minister, David Cameron, supports the smoking ban in pubs and clubs but he has said he is “more nervous” about legislation on smoking in cars.
Speaking at the Local Government Association’s annual public-health conference, however, Ms Soubry said: “I would ban smoking in cars where children are present.”
She added: “I would see it as a child-welfare issue. I think it is something we should at least consider.”
While Ms Soubry stressed her views were personal, a Department of Health survey last year found that more than one in five smokers would light up in front of children in their homes and vehicles.
Medical groups including the British Medical Association and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health have called for a ban, which has been introduced in parts of Canada, the US and South Africa. Each year, some 300,000 children in the UK visit GPs due to second-hand smoke, with 9,500 attending hospitals.