Health minister wants in-car smoking banClive Gee/PA Wire

Smoking in cars should be banned, according to England's health minister Anna Soubry, on the grounds of "child welfare".

"I would ban smoking in cars where children are present," said Ms Soubry, speaking at the Local Government Association's annual public health conference.

"I would do that for the protection of children. I believe in protecting children. I would see it as a child welfare issue. I think it is something we should at least consider as government."

Soubry, who is an ex-smoker herself, later emphasised that it was an expression of her own personal views, rather than a Government-backed idea.

"I expressed my own views on smoking in cars and the health threat it causes to children. We have no current plans to change government policy," she said.

"It remains the case that smoking is one of the biggest challenges in public health and as such it requires a range of responses, including encouraging people to change their behaviour - which is why we will soon repeat a national marketing campaign to remind smokers of the risks of exposing children and adults to second hand smoke."

The health minister isn't the first to raise such a suggestion, however, with the British Medical Association calling for a ban in 2011. Bans are already enforced in other countries too – including many parts of Australia, which bans in-car smoking when minors under 16 are present.

The House of Lords are also in favour, approving a bill last year that would make offenders liable to a £60 fine if they were caught smoking in a car where a child was sitting passenger. The bill would still need the approval of MPs before becoming law, however, and David Cameron has previously suggested he was "nervous" about introducing such a ban.