Call to ban smoking in cars with kids

  • Joanne McCarthy

ASH Ireland has called on the Government to bring in legislation to ban smoking in cars transporting children under the age of 16.

ASH Ireland believes that if adults are protected by the smoking ban in the workplace, we must protect children by banning smoking in cars. It is estimated that more than one in four children is exposed to smoking in cars every week, the consequences of which are very extensive.

Evidence shows that passive smoke is particularly harmful to children and that it can reach particularly high levels in the confines of motor vehicles. Children have a much higher respiratory rate and metabolism than adults, and this increases the risk.

According to Dr Angie Brown, chairperson of ASH Ireland, a number of countries and regions have successfully introduced bans on smoking in cars carrying children.

“The ban is in place in several Australian regions, in parts of Canada and the United States, in Cyprus, and is under consideration in the Netherlands, South Africa and elsewhere. There is irrefutable evidence to show that a car can be 23 times more toxic than a home environment in the context of passive smoke,” she said.
Furthermore, Dr Brown stressed that the levels of carcinogens found in cars where people are smoking are 11 times greater than those in found in ‘the smokiest pub in Ireland prior to the smoking ban’. She added that children exposed to passive smoke are much more likely to develop asthma, respiratory tract infections and even meningitis.

“Children are unlikely to ask adults to stop smoking, so we must take this important decision out of their hands,” she said.

Dr Brown held a briefing for all members of the Oireachtas today in advance of National No Smoking Day tomorrow, urging them to introduce the legislation. She was joined by environmentalist and TV presenter Duncan Stewart.

Mr Stewart told that Irish people spend more time in their cars than anywhere else in Europe, and people need to be aware that smoking in cars has ‘major effects on their health’.

“I certainly urge parents not to smoke when transporting their children in a car. However, the government can make this easier for all of us by just banning the practice of smoking in cars transporting children – and people will comply with this,” he said.

In introducing the ban, the Government would be following international best practice on tobacco/health related issues.

Passive smoking is the third most preventable cause of death in Ireland, after direct smoking and drinking alcohol.

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