New research shows an alarming number of children are exposed to second-hand smoke in cars. It's led to calls for a ban on smoking in cars.
Associate Health Minister Tariana Turia has even suggested the public dob in offenders.
It's estimated 100,000 children are exposed to second-hand smoke in cars every week. The team behind the research is calling for a law change, making it illegal to smoke in a car with a child.
“Legislation's really important to protect the vulnerable, which is in this case the children who can't speak for themselves,” says researcher Richard Edwards.
Ms Turia backs the idea. She suggests a $200 fine and public help to catch people smoking in cars.
“I think that people who see people smoking in cars, that if we were able to bring in the policy they could text their number plate,” she says.
The research is based on a survey by anti-tobacco lobby group Ash. The survey asked 25,000 14- and 15-year-olds how often they had been around smokers in a car over a week.
Second-hand smoke increases problems like asthma, cot death and glue ear. In 2000, research showed it was responsible for 383 deaths.
“I feel devastated,” says Ms Turia. “I think, how much more evidence do we need to give people that we would deliberately ruin the health of our children?”
Critics say the proposed law would be difficult to enforce, using the ban on using cell phones in cars as an example. But Prof Edwards disagrees.
“I think the most important thing is having the law,” he says. “Once you've done that most people will comply with it. We've seen that with seatbelt legislation. There's not a lot enforcement needed.”
Research also shows children exposed to smoking in cars are more likely to pick up the habit.
source: newshub archive