January 11, 2011

Dangers of Smoking in Car with Kids

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Authors of a new research article say there is enough evidence to support legislation that bans adults from smoking in cars with children.

The researchers conducted their study to determine how harmful secondhand smoke is to children riding in vehicles.

"We hope to show that, though the relevant data are rich and complex, a simple conclusion is possible," Dr. Ray Pawson, from the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom, writes. "The evidence does not show an absolute risk threshold because a range of environmental, biological and social factors contribute to the risk equation. The evidence does, however, show conditional truths, and the careful enunciation of each contributory condition is the task of public health science."

Investigators looked at the following factors in determining the risks involved:

*The mixture of chemicals that make up secondhand smoke and its concentration in cars under different conditions such as volume, speed and ventilation

*How long a person would be inside a car

*How long a person would be exposed to secondhand smoke

*The extent of difference between how secondhand smoke affects children and adults.

*The health impact of secondhand smoke

"Policy based on science and evidence has to exist amid uncertainty, and this is managed by acknowledging the contingencies," write the authors. "Thus, because of the confirmed cabin space, and under the worst ventilation conditions, and in terms of peak contamination, the evidence permits us to say that smoking in cars generates fine particulate concentrations that are very rarely experienced in the realm of air-quality studies and that will thus constitute a significant health risk because exposure to smoking in cars is still commonplace, and children are particularly susceptible and are open to further contamination if their parents are smokers."

The authors conclude that while the evidence is incomplete, there is enough to make a decision to legislate against smoking in cars with children.

SOURCE: Canadian Medical Association Journal, Jan. 10, 2011