Six countries, five states, and many local jurisdictions have banned smoking in cars when children are present to protect them from the clearly established dangers of tobacco smoking pollution, and an estimated sixteen states are now debating similar restrictions, says public interest law professor John Banzhaf, Executive Director of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), America’s first antismoking organization, who just finished a heated debate on this topic on Fox News. http://video.foxnews.com/v/4305659/government-control-or …
In preparation for the debate he posted on his website [http://ash.org/] a brief video showing just how dangerous tobacco smoke in the car can be. It shows that, within a few seconds of lighting only one cigarette, the level of particulate pollution goes from the EPA’s SAFE level to a level the agency regards as HAZARDOUS. Indeed, in a few more seconds, the level of pollution is at least ten times higher than the level the EPA considers HAZARDOUS to all, not just to the elderly, children, or those who might have conditions making them especially susceptible. http://ash.org/carsmoking
His website also shows that the federal government has reported that secondhand tobacco smoke kills tens of thousands of Americans each year, that a leading medical journal has reported that parental smoking kills thousands of children annually, and that many studies – including the dramatic video – have shown that the pollution level from smoking in a car is UNHEALTHY even with all the windows rolled down. Rolling all the windows down, however, isn’t healthy for the children inside when its very cold, very hot, or raining, notes Banzhaf, and it is not reasonable to expect drivers to roll all the windows down in these conditions. In sharp contrast, asking them to refrain from smoking during the very brief period of most drives with children seems very reasonable.
Banzhaf noted that laws already require parents to protect their children by buckling them into expensive safety seats, locating them only on the rear seat, refraining from watching TV or having an open bottle of liquor in the car, and other requirements far more bothersome that simply not smoking. He also notes that we have accepted laws which require adults to buckle up – a requirement which is even more intrusive, especially since it aimed at protecting adults from their own carelessness rather than protecting children.
We ban smoking in bars so that adults will not be exposed even to a whiff of smoke, but we provide no protection whatsoever for millions of children who are daily strapped into rolling smokehouses, argues Banzhaf. That’s exactly backwards because children are for more vulnerable to tobacco smoke pollution and, unlike adults who can avoid bars or leave if they are bothered by the smoke, children have no choice but to suffer, and no one will heed their cries.
Banzhaf’s organization has helped many nonsmoking parents obtain court order against smoking around their children, and more recently helped persuade more than a dozen states to ban smoking in cars when foster children are present. This helped lead to the breakthrough where more and more states are likely to ban smoking to protect children in cars.