Twenty-three GPs and over 500 other health professionals have signed the letter, published today in the BMJ, calling for a change in the law to prevent children being exposed to second-hand smoke in cars.
MPs will vote on an amendment to the Children and Families Bill 2013 to ban the practice on Monday.
The letter said there was now ‘a strong consensus that children need to be protected from unnecessary hazards, that exposing children to tobacco smoke is unacceptable, and that removing this exposure is effective’.
The Royal College of Physicians has estimated that each year smoke inhalation in children is responsible for 300,000 primary care consultations, 9,500 hospital admissions, at least 200 cases of bacterial meningitis, and 40 sudden infant deaths.
The letter said: ‘Objections that this legislation impinges on freedom assume that there is a right to force children to breathe tobacco smoke and the objectors seem to value this more highly than the children’s right to breathe clean air.
‘We urge MPs to support this important public health measure, which will protect the wellbeing of children now and in the future.’