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Smoking ban in cars supported by all types of smokers

Clocktower at sunset

Friday 7 August 2009 12:17pm

A clear majority of New Zealand smokers across all socio-economic and ethnic groups support a ban on smoking in cars carrying pre-school children, according to latest research from the University of Otago, Wellington.

The study covered a national sample of 1376 adult smokers surveyed in 2007-2008. It backs up earlier NZ results in this area which showed very strong support for a smoking ban in cars carrying children under the age of 14.

The latest analysis investigated support for a smoking ban amongst smokers of different age groups, genders, ethnic groups, and socio-economic deprivation levels, with the results just published in the NZ Medical Journal.

A minimum 92% of all the groups of smokers disagreed with allowing smoking in cars which are carrying pre-school children.

The lead author, public health researcher Dr George Thomson, says the latest analysis adds further weight to calls for a legal ban on smoking in cars, at a time when parliament is developing laws against the use of cell phones whilst driving.

"We need to ask ourselves why this country is lagging behind 11 states and provinces in Australia, Canada and the USA which have all passed laws to protect their children from smoking in cars," he says. "Such laws are consistent with our legislation around safety in cars - such as using seat belts and child safety seats".

Dr Thomson says that public education and social marketing are important, but need to be backed by regulation. "Legislation would provide a strong signal about the priority of child protection from the health risks of tobacco smoke pollution".

"It is clear from earlier research by researchers at the University of Otago that the health risks for children in a smoke-filled car are significant, because of the enclosed space in which this takes place."

That study, in 2006, showed that levels of fine particles from tobacco smoke in a car are extremely high; as bad as in an average smoky pub (pre-2004) when the car windows are down, and over twice as bad as in the worst smoky bar when the windows are up.

Funding support for this study came from the Health Research Council.

For further information contact

Dr George Thomson
Department of Public Health
University of Otago, Wellington
Tel 64 4 385 5541 ext 6054

A PDF of the study can be emailed on request or is available at the NZ Medical Journal.

A list of Otago experts available for media comment is available elsewhere on this website.

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