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Plunket supports calls to ban smoking with kids in cars

Plunket supports law reform that helps eliminate smoking in vehicles when children are present, as all smoking is harmful, Chief Nurse Dr Jane O’Malley says.

“There is overwhelming evidence that exposure to second-hand smoke is a major risk factor to children’s health. It is implicated in respiratory infections, asthma attacks, sudden unexplained death in infancy (SUDI), glue ear and more.”

Plunket supports a media campaign to ban smoking when children are in vehicles.

Dr O’Malley says smoke pollution in cars can be worse than the smokiest pubs were, even with the windows down, and high second hand smoke exposure occurs and presents serious risks to children.

“Women who smoke tend to breastfeed for a shorter duration and smoking also significantly reduces a mother’s breast milk volume.”

While Plunket supports law reform, Dr O’Malley says Plunket is opposed to any punitive enforcement measures as it believes these may have negative consequences and perpetuate inequities for the most vulnerable families.

“Fines may cause undue hardship and enforcement of unpaid fines may lead to further negative outcomes. We need to work to ensure the best interests of children are not compromised in any legislative change.

“As an alternative Plunket would prefer to see incentives offered to assist people to stop smoking.”

Dr O’Malley says Plunket works in partnership with families and whānau to connect them with services that will support them to become smoke-free.

“As Plunket nurses go into the homes of between 85-90% of all newborns and their families and whānau we are in a unique position to see their home environments. From this we know that 23% of the children Plunket see live with a smoker in the house when Plunket first visits them.”

She says the statistics are worse for those living in high deprivation, with 40% of children living with a smoker in the family.

Plunket Clinical Services Manager Gay Ford says a Plunket nurse told her of a success in helping a mum to quit smoking.

“The mum copied her family habit and had been a smoker for 15 years. We referred her to a local DHB programme that incentivised her to stop. It’s been a huge success as she feels more energetic, her lungs feel better, her clothing smells cleaner and she got through the winter without having to take the children to the doctor with any respiratory problems.”

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