Nine out of 10 households across Northern Ireland would welcome a ban on smoking in cars with children on board, new research has found.
Action Cancer estimates up to 13,500 children across the province could be at risk.
Health Minister Michael McGimpsey and the Chief Medical Officer Dr Michael McBride have both ruled out a ban on smoking in cars with children on board in the past.
But Action Cancer, which commissioned the research, said the findings show huge public support for the move.
Geraldine Kerr of Action Cancer said: “Children are one of the most vulnerable groups affected by passive smoking.
“The effect of second-hand smoke on a child’s metabolism can be attributed to doubling the risk of sudden infant death, wheezing and meningitis.
“In a confined environment such as a car, smoking just one cigarette can put air quality into the unhealthy category. That same cigarette will emit 50 times more fine particles into a car than those emitted by the car’s exhaust.”
A spokeswoman from the Department of Health said: “The Action Cancer campaign will help to further highlight the dangers of second-hand tobacco smoke to children and young people travelling in private cars.
“Increasing awareness of the harm caused by second-hand smoke, particularly to children, is very important in encouraging parents and other adults to make their homes and private vehicles completely smoke-free.”