A BAN on smoking in cars while children are present has been welcomed by Bolton’s MPs.

MPs voted in favour of the Labour-led amendment to the Children and Families Bill, giving health secretary Jeremy Hunt the power to create a new law — although it could be some time before it is introduced.

Opponents have said the new law would be difficult to enforce, but Bolton West MP Julie Hilling, who was present for the vote, said she thought it would be treated the same as driving without a seatbelt.

She said: “I think we know that second-hand smoke causes damage, particularly to children, and it just seems logical that if it’s banned in bars, it should be banned in cars where children are present.

“In many ways I think it is not about how to police it. It also sends a very strong message to everybody about how dangerous second hand smoke is. It is changing the norm and changing the public’s perception.”

Bolton South East MP Yasmin Qureshi missed the vote due to ill health, but said she was also supportive of the change in law.

She said: “I would have voted for the amendment. Although the majority of people are responsible and don’t smoke in the presence of children while driving, some are not. Therefore children are in a vehicle, in a confined space, where they don’t have the choice of whether to leave the car or not, so I think it’s appropriate to protect them from second-hand smoke.

“Hopefully it will encourage people to get into better habits and reduce the number of people smoking.”

MP for Bolton North East David Crausby was not present at the debate as he was visiting Ukraine with representatives from NATO.

Conservative MP for Rossendale and Darwen, Jake Berry, who represents resident in Belmont and Edgworth, also voted in favour of the ban, after asking people for their views on Facebook and Twitter.

Figures released by the British Lung Foundation in 2013 show more than 430,000 children aged 11 to 15 in England are exposed to second-hand smoke in family cars.

A spokesperson for Public Health Bolton said: “Children are particularly vulnerable to second hand smoke, as they have smaller lungs, faster breathing and less developed immune systems, which make them more susceptible to respiratory and ear infections triggered by second-hand smoking.”