Researchers have backed a proposal to ban smoking in private cars after they found that the habit produces pollutants which could be harmful to passengers.

The Smoke-free Private Vehicles Bill to ban smoking in private cars is being considered by MPs and would outlaw smoking in cars which are carrying children, with a penalty of a smoke-free awareness course as a first offence, or a £60 fine.

child car cigarette

Cigarette smoke in cars could harm health of passengers

Even when smokers open their windows or use air conditioning, the concentrations of pollutants are three times higher than the World Health Organisation indoor air quality standards, scientists said.

Such exposure is likely to affect the health of child passengers, said researchers from the University of Aberdeen.

The data, published in Tobacco Control, examined 17 drivers, 14 of whom were smokers, who made a total of 104 journeys, with an average duration of 27 minutes.

SEE ALSO: Smokers admit that ban 'worked'

Levels of fine particulate matter were measured every minute in the rear passenger area during typical car journeys made by smokers and non-smokers over a three-day period.

The average particulate matter levels were 11 times higher in smoking cars compared with non-smoking cars.

Loading Slideshow...
  • Five Ways To Quit Smoking

    Battle the addiction with these top tips by hypnotherapist, <a href="www.elledormerhypnotherapy.co.uk" target="_hplink"><strong>Elle Dormer</strong></a>.

  • Close Your Eyes

    "Close your eyes and take 3 deep breaths in and out. Now build a mental picture of yourself in the future as a non smoker. "Make it real by filling in the detail - where you are, what you're doing, who you're with and how much better you look and feel. This is known as future pacing. If you can imagine yourself having achieved your goal you a mentally a step closer to it."

  • Plan Your Escape

    "Smokers often use cigarettes as a form of escapism. To have a break away from their desk after a stressful call. Or to provide thinking time when they are procrastinating. "Go for a brisk walk instead. Or to the kitchen to make a cup of tea. Any simple, familiar task that we can do without much thought allows us to simultaneously access our unconscious or 'zone out' which can be both relaxing and enable greater creative thought."

  • Imagine Other People's Disappointment

    "Make a list of all the people (alive or dead) in your life who care for you - or have cared for you, like your friends, partner, parents or children. Then close your eyes and imagine them all together gathered in a room. "You are standing before them with a large beautifully gift wrapped box. This present represents you quitting smoking. Explain this to them in your mind. See or imagine their reactions. "Make them real. The relief, love, pride, appreciation. Then imagine asking for the gift back and how sad and disappointed they would be. And resolve that you cannot do this to the people you love."

  • Breathe!

    "Cigarettes do not relax you. Nicotine is a stimulant so it is actually making you edgier and more stressed by elevating your heart rate and releasing stress hormones like adrenalin and cortisol into your blood stream. "Try an experiment: replace one of your regular cigarettes of the day with the following pattern of breathing. Breathe in for a count of 4 and out for a count of 8. Do this 10 x, consciously relaxing your body on every out breath. "This will physiologically de-stress you by slowing your heart rate and releasing endorphins. And prove to you you can truly relax yourself without a cigarette.

  • Use Your Imagination

    "Take a moment somewhere quiet and close your eyes. Remember a time when you felt really confident, relaxed and in control. Take yourself back to that time, fill in the details and make it real. When you're feeling those emotions at their strongest, squeeze our thumb and forefinger together. "Clear your mind and repeat. Then practice recalling those helpful, positive emotions at points during the day by squeezing your thumb and forefinger together. The physical trigger should help to access those beneficial feelings that will help at moments of weakness."

The authors said that exposure to second-hand smoke is linked to several children's health problems, including sudden infant death, meningitis and respiratory conditions such as asthma and wheezing.

"Children are likely to be at greater risk from SHS (second hand smoke) exposure due to their faster breathing rates, less developed immune system and their inability to move away from the source in many home and car settings," they write.

SEE Also: Ex-Smokers Gain 5Kg In Weight

The authors added: "We believe that there is a clear need for legislation to prohibit smoking in cars where children are present."

They conclude: "Exposure to PM2.5 (fine particulate matter) at the levels reported here is likely to be harmful to respiratory health, and measures to remove or reduce this exposure within the confines of vehicles should be considered both in terms of individual responsibility and via legislation."

Loading Slideshow...
  • A stop smoking campaign which shows a tumour growing from a cigarette was launched in December 2012. According to the Department of Health (DoH), just 15 cigarettes can cause a mutation than can lead to cancerous tumours. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/12/27/shocking-anti-smoking-advert-cancer-cigarette-tumour-tv_n_2370655.html">Read the full story here.</a>

LIKE HUFFPOST UK LIFESTYLE ON FACEBOOK | FOLLOW US ON TWITTER