A cancer charity has welcomed the implementation of a ban in Northern Ireland on smoking in cars carrying children.
ancer Focus Northern Ireland said the decision by Health Minister Robin Swann was aimed at improving the health of those under 18.
Northern Ireland is now the last UK region to take the plunge, with England and Wales implementing the ban in 2015 with Scotland and the Republic of Ireland the following year.
Association CEO Richard Spratt said: “Cancer Focus NI has campaigned on tobacco-related issues for over 50 years and we have a vision for a tobacco-free Northern Ireland by 2035. This is a step in the right direction.
“In the near future, we would also like to see smoking eliminated everywhere children play or learn, including playgrounds, public parks and theme parks. “
He added, “We have already protected adults in workplaces and public places from second-hand smoke. It is high time we gave our young people the same protection. We also know that children who regularly see adults smoking are more likely to try smoking. We strongly believe that this decision could help protect children’s health and reduce their perception that smoking is normal behavior.
Mr Spratt said there are currently 2,300 tobacco-related deaths each year in Northern Ireland, along with thousands of people affected by cancer, respiratory illnesses and other smoking-related illnesses.
“Most smokers start when they are still children. It is vital that we can take all possible measures to try to protect another generation from this deadly product, ”he said.
The latest ban follows other measures to prevent young people in Northern Ireland from smoking in recent years.
These include the ban on the sale of tobacco in vending machines; a ban on tobacco displays in shops; tougher penalties for retailers caught selling tobacco to children; standardized packaging and ban on the sale of cigarettes in packs of ten.
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