It was announced this week that the Royal College of Physicians in Britain is urging lawmakers to pass a ban on smoking in cars, citing the dangers of second hand smoke to passengers. And they’re not just talking about the risk of developing cancer, but the effects of smoke that lead to respiratory infections, ear infections, asthma attacks and even SIDS in babies. All of these preventable effects put more financial strain on an already taxed health care system. The report by the Royal College of Physicians is part of an effort to expand on the smoke-free legislation that banned smoking in public places in 2007. Opponents argue that another smoking ban further infringes on their rights and is an attempt to legislate personal behavior.
Personally, I wish we had such a ban when I was small. I get angry now when I think about all the years I rode around with my Dad in the car smoking away and I had no say about it at all. If, God forbid, I or any of my siblings ever develop lung cancer I will always wonder if that exposure helped do us in. Never mind how nasty and uncomfortable it was riding around in an ashtray. I remember feeling sick to my stomach quite a bit, especially on long trips. I don’t think it was fair on us and Dad really had no excuse. We’re not talking about the 1930′s here when no one knew the side effects of smoking, it was the late 70′s.
But I’m not sure that a smoking ban like this one would be accepted in the United States. In fact, I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t fly, at least not right now. Like the opponents in Britain, much would be said about government intruding in people’s personal lives. But as we begin to change health care in this country, the issues of cost and prevention will continue to loom ever larger in our consciousness. When personal behavior like over-eating, drinking, drugs and smoking are costing the tax payers money, don’t they have the right to say what should be allowed or not? Something to consider.
So what do you think about banning smoking in cars? If you’re American, do you think we’ll ever see similar legislation proposed in the U.S. and more importantly would it pass? Have your say.