HEALTH chiefs and councillors in York have welcomed new rules which could lead to smoking in cars with children becoming illegal.

An amendment to the Children and Families Bill has given Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt the power to make it an offence to smoke in vehicles where under-18s are present.

Dr Paul Edmondson-Jones,  City of York Council’s director of health and wellbeing, said youngsters were more vulnerable to “second-hand smoke” as they have smaller lungs and less-developed immune systems.

“Smoke in cars is particularly dangerous as children are confined and smoke concentration often reaches very high levels - smoking continues to be the biggest cause of mortality in this country and now is the time to act,” he said.

Coun Tracey Simpson-Laing, the council’s cabinet member for health, said: “This is particularly important as it often isn’t a child’s choice whether to travel in a car where adults are smoking - a healthy future for our children is so important and I hope to see a change in legislation very soon.”