A BAN on smoking in cars carrying children has won substantial support in Bury.

Local residents along with Bury Council have backed the new measure, aimed at protecting youngsters from second-hand smoke.

Findings from a survey have shown that local people support the law change but underestimate the dangers of second-hand smoke.

A historic Parliamentary vote last week means that, from October, anyone lighting up in a car with a child under 18 inside will be breaking the law and could be fined.

Although Bury North MP David Nuttall voted against the legislation, he stressed he firmly believed adults should not smoke in cars while youngsters are present.

A snapshot street survey commissioned by Manchester-based Tobacco Free Futures showed that residents in Bury underestimated the dangers of secondhand smoke including:

• 98 per cent underestimating the number of chemicals in smoke - approximately 4,500 chemicals

• 68 per cent underestimating how long second-hand smoke lingers in an enclosed space - six hours

• 62 per cent underestimating how much of second-hand smoke is invisible - 80 per cent

Of the 50 Bury residents surveyed, 98 per cent agreed that smoking in cars with children present should be banned. Under one third of Bury residents (28 per cent) were aware that a law change was coming.

Bury mum Shannon Taylor, who supports smokefree cars, said: "I was 15-years-old when I started smoking, I’m 18 now. I would like to try and quit, especially now I have a young baby.

"I support smokefree cars, and I don’t agree with smoking in front of my baby. I didn’t know there was a potential law change coming that will make it illegal to smoke in the car with a child present. I knew it can be damaging but the amount of second-hand smoke is worse than I thought.”

To raise awareness of the dangers of second-hand smoke, Tobacco Free Futures has linked up with Bury Council to launch an online video including stars from Peep Show and Hollyoaks.

Lesley Jones, Director of Public Health at Bury Council, said: "Cigarette smoke contains around 4,500 chemicals, 60 of which we know cause cancer. Children suffering the effects of secondhand smoke are admitted to Bury hospitals every year with complications such as bronchitis, asthma and reduced lung function."

Mr Nuttall said: " I voted against this legislation. I strongly believe that adults should not smoke in cars whilst there are children present, but it is not something which should be a matter for the criminal law. I believe it will be very difficult to enforce. I think the police have better things to do than try and catch people who are smoking in cars.

"There will also be many anomalies,. For example, what about a 17 year-old who has passed a test and is legally driving the car and has an adult in the back who is smoking?

"I appreciate the intention is to protect children but children could be sitting all day in a room at home in which there parents are both smoking all day quite legally. It hardly makes sense to then prosecute the parents if they smoke whilst in the car for what might be a short car journey."