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A LAW has been proposed that would ban parents from smoking in their cars when children are present.

Anti-smoking groups are keen to see the issue of passive smoking in cars debated in parliament, after successfully lobbying for a smoking ban in enclosed public places in 2006.

Socialist senator Yannick Vaugrenard is leading the initiative and has asked the health minister in the National Assembly to take up the cause.

A recent study in the scientific publication Tobacco Control Journal found smoking in vehicles exposed passengers to toxin levels three times higher than the safe threshold set by the World Health Organisation.

Researchers found opening a window or turning on the air conditioning had no effect on the pollution levels inside the car.

Passive smoking can lead to irritation of the eyes, nose and throat and an increased risk of asthma and respiratory infection.

Anti-smoking group Droits des Non-Fumeurs said a ban would be difficult to enforce, but a publicity campaign was needed to remind parents of the dangers.

Family minister Dominique Bertinotti said the government was considering a ban on smoking in play areas at public parks and gardens.