PEOPLE have been urged not to smoke in cars with children after it was claimed many are still breathing in second-hand smoke every day.

About 185,000 children between the ages of 11 and 15 in England are exposed to potentially toxic concentrations of second-hand smoke in their family car every day or most days, figures from the British Lung Foundation (BLF) have shown. That is the equivalent of more than 6,100 classrooms full of children.

Researchers also found more than 430,000 children aged 11 to 15 years old in England are exposed to second-hand smoke in their family cars at least once a week.

Dr Paul Edmondson-Jones, director of health and wellbeing at City of York Council said: “These new figures demonstrate that children being exposed to second-hand smoke when travelling in a car is still a big problem.

“Children are more vulnerable to the dangers of second-hand smoke compared to adults due to their faster breathing, smaller lungs and less developed immune systems.

"City of York Council is pleased the British Lung Foundation has released these figures to further raise awareness of the issue, especially as children don’t usually have a choice as to how they travel and therefore have little opportunity to avoid second-hand smoke.”

The data from BLF comes as comes as the House of Lords prepares to debate a ban on smoking in cars where children are present.

However, smokers’ lobby group Forest has been quoted as saying the data is misleading and a ban “disproportionate to the problem”.

The BLF has said said a stationary car with the windows shut has 11 times more of a concentration of smoke than a smoke-filled pub and said every year, it results in more than 165,000 new episodes of disease among children, 300,000 primary care consultations, 9,500 hospital admissions and around 40 sudden infant deaths. 

Coun Tracey Simpson-Laing, the council’s cabinet member for health, housing and adult services, said : “Since the change in legislation adults are protected from second-hand smoke when in public places and work vehicles so it seems crazy that children are still being exposed when travelling in a family car.

“A healthy future for children is so important. I urge the amendment to the Children and Families Bill to be made to ban smoking in cars when children are present when it is debated in the House of Lords this week.”