Let's protect kids from second-hand smoke in cars
The recent news that standardised packaging for cigarettes will be brought in across the UK is a great victory for everyone who wants to protect children from tobacco.
But we can't let that accomplishment overshadow another area in urgent need for action: protecting children from tobacco smoke in the car.
Research has shown that smoking in a car, even with the windows down, or air-conditioning on, can quickly create dangerous levels of pollution. Children are at particular risk due to their smaller lungs, faster breathing and less developed immune systems.
They can be at risk of illnesses, such as asthma attacks, glue ear and even meningitis.
Success in England and Wales means that young people there will be protected from second-hand smoke in cars from October. Scotland's government is planning on introducing similar protections soon. We have to make sure Northern Ireland's children aren't left behind.
The Health Minister, Jim Wells, has supported protecting young people in the past, calling smoking in cars "absolutely inexplicable" and saying that a ban is "inevitable".
We need to show him that Northern Ireland's people feel the same way.
You can tell Mr Wells and your MLAs that you support a ban in Northern Ireland by visiting www.blf.org.uk/SiC-NI to send your message of support.
Together, we can protect our children from the dangers of tobacco.
DR JAMES CANT
Head, British Lung Foundation NI