The time is right to ban smoking in cars with kids



The time is right to protect the thousands of children exposed to a cocktail of pollutants in smoke-filled cars every day. The Cancer Society is lending its support to a petition launched this week calling for a ban on smoking in cars with children. 

“There is overwhelming evidence about the health risks posed by second-hand smoke in cars,” says the Society’s Manager for Advocacy and Wellbeing, Shayne Nahu.“There’s no two ways about it, second-hand smoke in cars is dangerous for kids.

Smoking in cars carrying children is banned in many other comparable countries, including Australia, the UK, France and most US and Canadian states. “It’s shameful that New Zealand is an outlier in this area,” Mr Nahu says.

He adds that children who are exposed to second-hand smoke are much more likely to go on and become smokers themselves. “De-normalising smoking for these kids now, means they’re less likely to become smokers as adults and that will protect them from the increased cancer-risk that comes with being a smoker.”

Mr Nahu says there is strong support for a ban on smoking in cars with children in New Zealand.  The 2016 Health and Lifestyles survey found 94% of adults supported a ban on smoking in cars with children.Even most smokers agree with the move. The same survey found that 89% of adult smokers supported a ban. 

You can read more and sign the "New Zealand Government : Make it illegal to smoke in cars with children" petition here:

The Cancer Society is part of the National Smokefree Cars Working Group, a coalition of health organisations and NGOs working to achieve the Government’s goal of making New Zealand Smokefree by 2025. Banning smoking in cars carrying children and young people under the age of 18 is one of the measures that will help achieve that goal.

Facts about smoking in cars:

 *             94% of adults support a ban on smoking in cars with children and 89% of adult smokers supported a ban.[i]

*             87% of 14-15 year-old New Zealanders support a ban on smoking in cars with children.[ii]

*             Around 100,000 children aged 16 and under travel in smoke-filled cars each week.[iii]

*             The amount of tobacco smoke pollution in cars can be worse than in the smokiest pub.[iv]

*             Children exposed to second-hand smoke the home or cars are much more likely to become smokers themselves. [v] [3 4]

*             Children exposed to second-hand smoke are at increased risk of respiratory tract infections, asthma exacerbations, Sudden Unexplained Death in Infancy (SUDI), and bacterial meningitis. [vi]


[i] Health Promotion Agency (2017) 2016 Health and Lifestyles Survey. Wellington: Health Promotion Agency.

[ii] Action on Smoking and Health. 2014 ASH Year 10 Snapshot Survey: Information and methodology. Auckland: Action on Smoking and Health; 2014.

[iii] Healey B, Hoek J, Wilson N, et al. Youth exposure to in-vehicle second-hand smoke and their smoking behaviours: trends and associations in repeated national surveys (2006-2012). Tob Control 2015;24(2):146-52. doi: 10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2013-051124.

[iv] Raoof SA, Agaku IT, Vardavas CI. A systematic review of secondhand smoke exposure in a car: Attributable changes in atmospheric and biological markers. Chron Respir Dis 2015;12(2):120-31. doi: 10.1177/1479972315575202.

[v] Waa A, Edwards R, Newcombe R, et al. Parental behaviours, but not parental smoking, influence current smoking and smoking susceptibility among 14 and 15 year-old children. Aust N Z J Public Health 2011;35(6):530-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1753-6405.2011.00772.x.

[vi] Royal College of Physicians. Passive smoking and children. A report by the Tobacco Advisory Group. London: Royal College of Physicians, 2010.