PARENTS who smoke were today accused of child abuse.
The accusation was made by Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman, who is mounting a no-holds-barred campaign against smoking.
He made his claim today, National No Smoking Day, when thousands of people all over the country try to quit the habit.
"The harmful effects of passive smoking are well known and those who force others to inhale their smoke are causing serious damage to their health.
"This intentional harm is a form of abuse," he said.
Mr Sheerman, who has never smoked in his life, said young people were particularly susceptible to cigarette smoke.
"It's particularly worrying for children. They are not allowed to buy tobacco products yet you see babies and young children being carried in cars with four adults all smoking.
"And this happens when we live in a society of increasing rates of asthma and allergies among children."
"If people don't stop smoking, don't exercise more and don't watch their weight, the NHS is going to be absolutely overburdened by people who have made themselves sick or made themselves ill.
"I have always tried to steer away from hectoring, but I am a zealot because I see people whose lives are blighted by smoking and I do not apologise for that.
"But I am also sympathetic because smoking is highly addictive. My heart goes out to smokers."
* 4m smokers will try to kick the habit today
* Nicotine is as addictive as heroin and only 3% of those who try to stop will succeed
* There are around 13m smokers in Britain, 27% of the population
* There are literally dozens of products now available to help wean smokers off nicotine. They range from patches and gum to nasal sprays, tablets and inhalers.