SDLP Foyle MP Mark Durkan has welcomed the recent announcement by the Health Minister Michelle O’Neill that a public consultation on plans to ban smoking in private vehicles carrying children in Northern Ireland will be running from until March 32017.
Similar legislation came into force in England and Wales in October 2015 and in Scotland last month. A ban also took effect in the Republic of Ireland in 2016.
Mr Durkan, who voted in favour of the smoking ban in cars carrying children at Westminster, said: “As a legislator in the House of Commons my vote in support of this new law was about setting an important principle and precedent.
“While always according due respect to parental rights and responsibilities, I also subscribe to the ethic that ‘every child is our child’ when it comes to essential health and safety which can be underpinned by law.
“However, emphasis should be on education rather than any confrontational or heavy-handed police enforcement.
“It also makes sense that there is a clear and consistent standard across all of the jurisdictions in these islands.
“I therefore hope that the result of this public consultation will help to galvanise the Assembly into action and lead to the introduction of a ban on smoking in cars carrying children here as soon as possible.”