Calls for nationwide ban on smoking in cars with children

Monday 4 February, 2008

Urgent action was needed in the form of a nationwide ban to stop children being exposed to toxic cigarette smoke in cars, The Cancer Council Australia said today (World Cancer Day - Feb 4).

Chief Executive Officer, Professor Ian Olver, said it was incongruous that a country like Australia, which had introduced measures such as immunisation to improve child health, would allow children to be exposed to dangerous levels of second-hand tobacco smoke in cars.

"Studies show smoking in cars, even with the window down, produces at least as much harmful second-hand smoke as the smokiest bar," Professor Olver said. "We protect people from tobacco toxins on public transport, yet thousands of Australian children are exposed to the dangers of second-hand smoke in cars every day.

"South Australia and Tasmania have shown great leadership by introducing bans. We want to see the Rudd Government pledge to work with state and territory governments to extend the bans across the country."

Professor Olver said the Rudd Government had made welcome commitments to work more cooperatively with states and territories and to do more to prevent chronic diseases. "World Cancer Day 2008 is the ideal opportunity for the Government to announce its intention to lead a national, consistent approach to outlawing cigarette smoke in cars carrying children."

He said South Australia's and Tasmania's introduction of spot fines, easily administered just like fines for littering or mobile phone use while driving, should be implemented urgently nationwide. Ensuring a timely, consistent approach across jurisdictions could be achieved through the kind of co-operative intergovernmental approach championed by Prime Minister Rudd.

The Cancer Council Australia, alongside 270 organisations worldwide, is supporting World Cancer Day to give children a smoke-free environment. Around 700 million children - almost half the world's young people - breathe air polluted by tobacco smoke. The international campaign - I love my smoke-free childhood - is being coordinated by the International Union Against Cancer (http://www.uicc.org/).

Media contacts: 

Ben Seal, 02 8063 4151; ben.seal@cancer.org.au
Paul Grogan, 0409 456 727; paul.grogan@cancer.org.au   

Related research

1 Highly hazardous air quality associated with smoking in cars. New Zealand Medical Journal Oct 2006

2 Measuring Air Quality to Protect Children from Secondhand Smoke in Cars. American Journal of Preventative Medicine. Nov 2006 (www.ajpm-online.net/webfiles/images/journals/amepre/1751.pdf)