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Smoking in cars?

By johnboy - 4 January 2009 165

On Friday Katy Gallagher announced the release of a discussion paper on protecting children in cars from passive smoking (now known as the more modish environmental tobacco smoke or ETS).

On the one hand it seems like a peculiar piece of nannyism, particularly as it relies on the exceptional abrogations of our rights which we accept in the interests of road safety for enforcement.

On the other hand if they can regulate which electronic devices you can operate while driving why not add the consumption of coffin nails?

The three kites Katy is flying are:

    1. Ban smoking in a motor vehicle when a child under the age of 16 years is present.

    2. Ban smoking in a motor vehicle when any passengers are present.

    3. Total ban on smoking while driving

A total ban on smoking in cars would at least teach the bores who can’t survive without taking a drag every five minutes that in fact it is possible.

If you want to have your say on this (and the New Years timing suggests Katy would rather you did not) then you’ve got until 27 February to sling it in to:

    Mail: Smoking in cars
    Health Protection Service
    Locked Bag 5
    Weston Creek ACT 2611
    Fax: (02) 6205 1705

Alternatively share your views below.

Banning smoking tobacco in cars?

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165 Responses to
Smoking in cars?
trevar 12:34 pm 04 Jan 09

I agree to some extent with ricketyclik; but I have never been in a car with a smoking person without enduring hours of coughing afterwards. His/her children, even if s/he was careful, would be used to the smell of smoke, and would not detect it or be as sensitive to it.

I think they should prohibit smoking in cars with children, AND prohibit smokers from having the windows open while they smoke. It’s not an issue when they’re moving, but if you’re stuck at the lights next to a smoker, you shouldn’t have to inhale the stink. Even if you put up your windows, by the time you know you’ve pulled up next to a chimney, it’s too late.

I don’t think human rights are that relevant to this argument. A human doesn’t need to inhale smoke, ergo a smoker is not a human. If they want representation, they can go to the RSPCA.

Granny 12:31 pm 04 Jan 09

I know you love your children and want the best for them. I can’t agree that this method is adequate protection from the kind of dangers these substances present, but I do hope you are right.

ricketyclik 12:23 pm 04 Jan 09

I should have said “smoked”.

ricketyclik 12:23 pm 04 Jan 09

Granny said :

So you can prove that there is not a build-up of arsenic in your car? Or lead?

No, just going by the fact that the kids don’t smell any smoke when I smoke in the car.

Granny 12:20 pm 04 Jan 09

So you can prove that there is not a build-up of arsenic in your car? Or lead?

ricketyclik 12:16 pm 04 Jan 09

Ex-smoker and parent here.

It is quite easy to smoke in the car in such a way as to almost eliminate exposure by passengers. If the driver’s window, and only the driver’s window, is open, even a crack, and the car is moving, there is a sweet spot, usually reachable from the right hand while it is on the top-right of the wheel, from where the smoke is sucked directly out of the vehicle.

I’ve had my kids request the window be wound up and me tell them “I’m smoking” – they didn’t even know.

In a stopped car this doesn’t work – one needs to wind the window down and hang the cigarette out of the car, and in that situation some smoke will get in. This can be minimised by holding the cigarette in front of the windscreen (outside). It – the smoke – is immediately evacuated once the car is moving again.

So, while I am absolutely against exposing anyone, particularly children, to cigarette smoke against their will, I think in the Canberra driving context – ie, usually moving – one can drive with children in the car and smoke and have their exposure at next to nothing.

I agree that closing the windows and smoking with others in the car is tantamount to abuse.

So, to ban or not? I’d say not, but add it to the list of warnings on the packets – eg, “smoking in the car whilst it is unventilated is the equivalent of forcing your passengers to smoke X cigarettes” or some such.

On the point about distractions to driving, I always found smoking while driving far, far easier than eating, drinking, talking on the phone or even holding a complex conversation with a passenger while driving.

Ian 12:00 pm 04 Jan 09

I think there are at least 3 grounds for banning smoking in cars. (1) it is surely as much a distraction as using a mobile phone (2) it subjects any passengers, especially children, to a cocktail of poisons in a confined space (3) dickhead smokers throw butts out the window and present environmental and fire hazards. I actually think people smoking with children in the car are simply abusing those children, and ought not to require law enforcement to refrain from doing it – but many people who manage to produce children are not fit to maintain them, so I guess the law needs to try to make them act responsibly (sigh, wouldn’t it be so much simpler if we had fitness for parenting tests and licenses?).

Problem is I think smoking bans in cars would be basically unenforceable.

Granny 11:47 am 04 Jan 09

Sorry, meant to include the link.

Granny 11:46 am 04 Jan 09

According to Wendy Crocker, ‘Heavy metals like arsenic, cadmium and lead have been detected in sidestream cigarette smoke, demonstrating that these toxic elements can travel different distances in air flow.’

‘Smoking cigarettes produces upwards of 4000 chemicals; many are toxic and around 40 cause cancer.’

I find it difficult to believe that shutting a child into a confined space containing known carcinogenic agents and heavy metals such as lead and arsenic is less abusive than the spankings I once received from my parents.

Society is responsible for protecting the most vulnerable from abuse, and I cannot see how this behaviour is not abusive.

ramblingted 11:34 am 04 Jan 09

I hate smoke, and love smoke free restaurants and pubs, but as far as cars go I think IF its only adults in the car they should be left to work it out. Where there are kids in the car though there should be a smoking ban..although most of the bogans won’t take any notice (as they don’t regarding child restraints, car registration, etc etc). But would this lead to cases of young Kayleen and Tod spending a bit of time in the boot? (Frank Gallagher made me think of that!)

futto 11:26 am 04 Jan 09

What about THIRD hand smoke from today’s NY Times article?

Take up the challenge, Katy!

johnboy 11:22 am 04 Jan 09

farnarkler said :

If any sort of ban does come in, human rights lawyers will have a field day.

We already have un-warranted searches on our roads and bans on mobile phone use, I doubt the lawyers would have much to go with.

This isn’t Europe or the US.

Thumper 11:19 am 04 Jan 09

Is anything else this mob wants to ban, regulate, control? How about going the whole hog and ban smoking from, oh anywhere outside in the ACT for instance.

People should be up in arms about this.

farnarkler 11:17 am 04 Jan 09

If any sort of ban does come in, human rights lawyers will have a field day.

futto 11:15 am 04 Jan 09

I have never smoked and I enjoy the smoke free bars now however a total ban on smoking in cars is pretty silly.

The driver is in their own private smoke contained bubble. I would have thought that is a good thing. 🙂

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