The head of the Cancer Society is calling on the Government to follow the lead of the UK, Canada and Australia and ban smoking in cars with children.
Chief executive Claire Austin says even with the window down, research shows smoking while driving is still two-thirds as harmful as shutting kids in a smoky bar.
"Would you take your baby to crawl around in a smoky bar? Do you want your baby putting those sorts of carcinogens in your mouth? Because that's the equivalent of what you're doing," she said on TV3's Paul Henry programme this morning.
Despite decades of being told smoking is bad not just for the smoker, but anyone who breathes in their second-hand smoke, Ms Austin doesn't think smokers are stupid or being deliberately negligent – they just don't know how damaging it really is.
"I thought about when my children were young… I remember driving around the back of Christchurch in a little Morris Minor, and my three-year-old standing up, riding the back seat like a chariot," she says.
"I love my daughter to bits, and fortunately she has lived to actually produce her own babies now, but we didn't know. If we threw our children in the back seat of a car now, people would be horrified."
Education, not shaming and blaming, she says is the key – but it may take legislation to stamp it out entirely, as Wales and England are doing.
"I think [there are] a number of measures to make New Zealand a healthier place – one is legislation, where you can legislate to protect people; another is to educate and support people to give up as well."
Even smoking in the car without children is a bad idea, says Ms Austin, because of what's known as 'third-hand smoke' – the carcinogens that remain after the smoke itself has cleared.
"The carcinogens from smoke, that third-hand smoke, start to mix with the air to make a really toxic effect. Now they're looking at the research at the impact on people's health, but clearly if you've got carcinogens in your environment, it's not a good thing."
The new Welsh and English laws both come into force from October 1.
source: newshub archive