‘Nanny state going too far’ says Wilson

East Antrim MP Sammy Wilson
East Antrim MP Sammy Wilson

Proposals to ban smoking in cars carrying children is the latest example of “the nanny state going too far”, East Antrim MP Sammy Wilson has claimed.

Health Minister Michelle O’Neill has announced an eight-week consultation on regulations to restrict smoking in private vehicles when people under the age of 18 are present.

The Health Minister said: “As a society, we must take responsibility for the health and well-being of our children which is why we must tackle this issue and why I am keen to introduce legislation to help prevent this.”

However, Mr.Wilson said he felt that a ban was “not the right approach”.

He said: “It comes down to how much can we oversee people’s behaviour.

“If there is a case for banning smoking in cars with children, what about stopping people smoking in their own homes.

“What is the difference and at what stage does the state stop interfering?”

Mr Wilson also expressed concerns that such measures would be “unenforceable” and “easily flouted”.

“At the end of the day, people need to take responsibility for their own lives and the impact their actions have on others.

“If the government is concerned about this issue, then the way to deal with it is by ensuring people have all the information they need to make an informed choice.

“It is about educating people. In a free society, it should be up to people to choose for themselves. This is just another example of the nanny state going too far. It is easy for politicians to respond to clamour of pressure groups. But you have to ask, is this response proportionate or even the most effective way of addressing this issue? I don’t believe it is.”