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More than 100 000 Kiwi kids exposed to smoking in cars

Action on Smoking and Health (ASH)

More than 100 000 Kiwi kids exposed to smoking in cars

A new study estimates the number of New Zealand children exposed to secondhand smoke in cars at over 100 000 per week.

The letter published today in the New Zealand Medical Journal says the conservative estimate is based on 22 per cent of students in the ASH Year 10 Survey reporting exposure to smoking in vehicles during a typical week.

Co-author of the letter, Ben Healey, a senior research fellow from the Department of Marketing, at the University of Otago, says the real figure is likely to be even higher as estimates for the age range 0 to 14 were based on only half of the Year 10 figure.

“We’ve been deliberately conservative. While smoking in cars with children continues to be a problem, there are things that can be done about it.”

Dr Healey says adults can often take options to avoid smoke filled cars, such as leaving or requesting adults not to light up, moves which are often not available to young people.

“A law preventing smoking in cars will have flow on effects to other areas, such as prompting quit attempts and reducing smoking initiation.”

ASH director Ben Youdan says lawmakers need to use all of the tools available to keep on track the government’s goal of a smokefree New Zealand by 2025.

“Alongside measures such as tax increases, retail licences and plain packaging, this is an area where legislation can make a difference to public health outcomes. We need to see smoking in cars dealt with as soon as possible.”

“The decrease of youth smoking has been a positive step, but exposure to secondhand smoke harms the future health of young people. We know there’s strong support for the protection of kids,” said Mr Youdan.

Students in the survey are asked if anyone has smoked around them in vehicles in the previous seven days.


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