Smoking should be banned in private vehicles, say UK doctors. The British Medical Association (BMA) has produced research to show smoking in vehicles exposes others to high levels of toxins from secondhand smoke.
The doctors' organisation is asking UK governments to extend the smoking ban to private vehicles.
BMA Director of Professional Activities, Dr Vivienne Nathanson, says, "Every year in England there are over 80,000 deaths that are caused by smoking. This figure increases to a shocking six million worldwide.
"But behind the stark statistics, doctors see the individual cases of ill-health and premature death caused by smoking and second-hand smoke. For this reason, doctors are committed to reducing the harm caused by tobacco."
The ban on smoking in public places was a positive move, but further action could be taken, she says.
"We are calling on UK governments to take the bold and courageous step of banning smoking in private vehicles. The evidence for extending the smoke-free legislation is compelling.
"The current UK Government prefers voluntary measures or 'nudging' to bring about public health change but this stance has been shown to fail time and time again."
The BMA's call comes just a week before the second reading of MP Alex Cunningham's Private Members Bill to ban smoking in private vehicles is considered in the House of Commons on Friday 25 November.
The research gathered by the BMA shows that because cars are restrictive, smoking can expose drivers and passengers to toxins 23 times greater than in the smoky atmosphere of a bar.
Children, who absorb a greater level of pollutants and have a less effective immune system than an adult, are at a greater risk from second-hand smoke. In addition, they may not be able to refuse to travel.
Those who are elderly and have breathing problems also have a higher risk of being harmed.