July 22, 2013
Most Adults Agree: Smoking In Cars With Kids Should Be Banned
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Banning smoking in cars with kids inside is a popular idea, according to a new survey from researchers at the University of Michigan (U-M).
The researchers surveyed 1,996 adults over the age of 18 and found that 82 percent supported the idea of banning smoking in cars when children under 13 are riding in the vehicle. Despite the popularity of the idea, only seven states actually have laws on the books that prohibit this action.
"Smoke is a real health hazard for kids whose lungs are still developing, and especially for kids who have illnesses like asthma where the lungs are particularly fragile and flare up when exposed to secondhand smoke," says Matthew M. Davis, M.D., M.A.P.P., director of the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health.
Not only were a big majority of those surveyed in support of the idea of a smoking ban in cars, but 87 percent also said they would support a ban on smoking in businesses where children are allowed. The researchers also discovered that 75 percent of adults are in support of banning smoking in homes where children have asthma or other lung diseases.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in February, 2012 that a child's greatest exposure to secondhand smoke comes from inside cars. This survey found that one in five high school and middle school children are passengers in cars while others smoke.
"Although the number of people smoking has dropped dramatically in the last 50 years, secondhand smoke remains a health risk," says Davis, who is associate professor of pediatrics and internal medicine at the U-M Medical School.
Current smokers were even in support of the proposed bans, with 60 percent saying they approved the idea of banning smoking in cars carrying children.
According to a 2006 study by researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health, "alarming" levels of secondhand smoke can be generated in a car in just five minutes. The California Environmental Protection Agency reports that secondhand smoke in cars can be 10 times more concentrated than the level considered unhealthy by the US Environmental Protection Agency.
So far, Arkansas, California, Louisiana, Maine, Illinois, Oregon and Utah have already enacted laws pertaining to smoking in cars with children.
"Given the high level of public support for laws prohibiting smoking in vehicles with children in this poll, it may be that the bans enacted by a small number of states should be considered by many more states, and perhaps at the national level," Davis says.
He added that there are no laws at this time that prohibit smoking in homes where children have asthma or other lung diseases, but the level of public support is so high that "now may be the time for public health officials and legislators to move forward on ideas to protect" these children.