Smokers in South Tyneside have one more reason to quit as a new law comes into force today.
It is now illegal to smoke in a vehicle carrying someone under the age of 18.
It will bring major health benefits as many more people will realise this law is for a very good reason, and protect their children.Lisa Surtees, Fresh acting director
The new law is designed to help protect children from the dangers of secondhand smoke.
Under the ban both the driver and the smoker can be fined £50 if anyone smokes in a vehicle with a person who is under 18.
More than 80% of cigarette smoke is invisible, and children are vulnerable as they breathe more rapidly and have less developed airways and immune systems.
Secondhand smoke is made up of over 4,000 chemicals, more than 50 of which cause cancer.
It puts children at risk of serious conditions including meningitis and respiratory infections such as bronchitis.
Exposure results in more than 300,000 GP consultations and 9,500 hospital admissions in the UK each year.
Lisa Surtees, acting director of Fresh, said: “It is really important we give children legal protection from smoking in cars.
“Most smokers nowadays avoid smoking around children, but a significant number of children are still exposed to smoke which contains harmful poisons like carbon monoxide and arsenic and puts them at increased risk of meningitis and respiratory infections.
“This law is incredibly popular with 88% of adults in the North East supporting it. We also expect it will be largely self-enforcing, as with the smoke free law in 2007. It will bring major health benefits as many more people will realise this law is for a very good reason, and protect their children.”