The German state of North Rhine-Westphalia is to consider a law which would ban smoking in vehicles with children and pregnant women. The health minister has also called for a nationwide ban.
Lawmakers in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia proposed a new bill on Wednesday that would criminalize smoking in cars with children or pregnant women.
The state parliament initially called for this new law in March, with all parties supporting the movement except for the right-wing populist Alternative for Germany (AfD).
"Is it irresponsible if people smoke in vehicles in the presence of children and pregnant women," said state Health Minister Karl-Josef Laumann of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrat Party (CDU).
"Unborn babies and underage children cannot protect themselves from the dangers of passive smoking. This is why we need this smoking ban," he added.
'Protect those who cannot protect themselves'
Laumann also enumerated the dangers of passive smoking including lung disease, higher risk of cancer and growth deformities. "The state has a particular responsibility to protect those who cannot protect themselves," he said in the press release.
He also called for the law to be considered on a national level. The bill will be introduced to the Bundesrat, the upper house of German parliament, on September 20, and would need to pass the lower house, the Bundestag, before it could become law.
According to a study by the GfK Institute published on Monday, 90% of non-smokers and 80% of smokers in Germany support a ban on smoking in cars with children.
There already are similar laws in place in Italy, Austria, France, and England and Wales.
ed/sms (dpa, epd)