Ban on smoking in cars 'significant step' for children's oral health, according to leading charity

From Thursday [1 October 2015], smoking in vehicles with anyone under the age of 18 will become illegal in England – a move which will have a profound effect on children’s oral health – according to the UK’s leading dental charity.

The British Dental Health Foundation has previously highlighted how passive smoking puts children at higher risk1 from tooth decay and problems with their oral health development.

The charity believes this move will have a hugely positive effect in protecting children and young people to the extreme dangers of inhaling second hand smoke.

Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter OBE, discussed what effects this move will have. Dr Carter said: “Within a confined environment, such as a car, children are exposed to higher concentration of harmful chemicals if somebody is smoking.

“Research has shown then a single cigarette smoked in a car with closed windows produces 11 times higher2 levels of second hand smoke than in an average bar where smoking is permitted. This is extremely dangerous to anyone within that car, especially children whose dental health is still developing.

“Everybody is aware of the dangers of smoking to our health but often overlook the effects on our mouth, gums and teeth. Second hand smoke can lead to gum disease, tooth loss, and in more severe cases mouth cancer.

“Smoking is the leading cause of mouth cancer which kills almost seven thousand people in the UK annually.”

The new move is in response to overwhelming public support. A recent YouGov poll found that three in four (77 per cent) British adults agree that smoking should be banned in cars with passengers under 18 years old.

What is also interesting is that two-thirds (63 per cent) of smokers polled also agreed with this.

The health risks associated with second hand smoking are well known and reported; smoking has been banned in enclosed placed in England since July 2007, including a ban on smoking in vehicles used for work. A move which has saved countless lives.

“We have already seen from the 2007 smoking ban that moves such as this can help to save lives and that the majority of public voices agree with these types of measures,” added Dr Carter.

“There will also be a significant behavioural perspective; when smoking is banned from these vehicles children who are travelling with smokers will not come to associate the habit of smoking as a perceived normal behaviour.

“Smoking is a deeply antisocial and damaging habit, one which the British Dental Health Foundation has continually highlighted as a key battleground in the fight against oral diseases.”

Under the new laws both the driver of the vehicle and person who is smoking can be issued with an on the spot £50 fine4.

To find out more about the dangers of smoking on oral health visit

Editors Notes



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The British Society of Dental Hygiene and Therapy (BSDHT) is a nationally recognised body that represents over 4,000 Dental Hygienists and Dental Therapists across the UK and beyond.

BSDHT maintain an on-going dialogue with the General Dental Council (GDC), the Departments of Health and all of the main groups representing dental care professionals, and attends meetings of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Dentistry, bringing dental hygiene and therapy to the attention of government ministers and MP’s.

Visit for more information.

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