Road safety officers have called for the government to take steps to reduce the number of people smoking while driving, in a bid to cut the number of accidents on the road.
The call has been met with strong reactions from pro-smoking groups, who disagree with the suggestion that smoking is a dangerous distraction to drivers.
Simon Ettinghausen from the Local Authority Road Safety Officers’ Association has made claims to the contrary, arguing that driving while attempting to hold a lit cigarette is particularly dangerous.
Mr Ettinghausen said: "Anything you do in the car is a distraction, whether it’s eating, drinking, using a mobile phone or smoking. But smoking in particular can be very dangerous."
"If you drop a lit cigarette, your concentration on driving will immediately vanish."
But Forest, a pro-smoking campaign group, has slammed the call as absurd, claiming it is simply another attack on smokers’ rights.
Simon Clark, of Forest, raged: "Are we going to ban people retuning the radio or changing a CD?"
Nevertheless, the proposal has been supported by the Action on Smoking and Health campaign group.