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Vote in favour of smoking controls

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Medical experts have voted in favour of a raft of measures to place tighter controls around smoking and drinking.

The British Medical Association (BMA) backed plans to ban drivers from smoking while behind the wheel as well as voting in favour of putting greater restrictions on licensing hours.

The BMA was also behind a move to set a minimum price for alcohol at 50p per unit.

It is now thought the association may urge ministers in England as well as Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to pass new tobacco and alcohol laws.

If the plans go ahead it could make life healthier for van insurance customers whose colleagues won't be able to light up in the cabin.

However critics of the plans have said that they could infringe people's liberty, suggesting that a ban on smoking would be tough to police.

But supporters say the proposals would improve the nation's health as well as saving cash for the NHS.

London-based public health doctor Douglas Noble described smoking in cars as a toxic threat to people's health and called for legislation to ban it completely.

He said: "In-car particle concentrations are 27 times higher than in a smoker's home and 20 times higher than in a pub in the days when you could smoke in public places.

"It would be safer to have your exhaust pipe on the inside of your car than smoke cigarettes.

"This would protect non-smokers - particularly pregnant women and children.

"There is also evidence linking driving and smoking to a higher rate of road traffic accidents."

© Press Association 2011