Associate Health Minister Jenny Salesa has announced that smoking and vaping in cars when children are present will be banned.
The ban will apply to all vehicles, whether they are parked or being driven, if there are children under 18 present. Police will have the discretion to give a warning, refer people to stop-smoking support services, or issue a $50 fine.
Salesa expects the Smokefree Environments Act will be changed by the end of this year to implement the ban. She said the ban was primarily aimed at protecting children’s’ health, and is also a step towards the goal of Smokefree Aotearoa by 2025.
University of Otago Professor Janet Hoek from ASPIRE2025, a research programme working toward a tobacco-free Aotearoa, told Stuff that a child sitting in a smoke-filled car would be exposed to more than 4000 harmful chemicals.
“Exposure to smoke is really harmful whether it’s directly or indirectly, but research shows that even when the cigarette is hanging out of the window there is still a very high concentration of chemicals.”
Ministry of Health Director-General Ashley Bloomfield said in its most recent survey of Year 10 students, 30 per cent reported being exposed to secondhand smoke, RNZ reported.
A ban would have a dramatic impact on respiratory conditions and asthma according to modelling they’ve done, he said.
“Hundreds to thousands less admissions to hospital, about 10,000 less asthma episodes and many less visits to GPs required.”
Smoking in cars with children is already banned in Australia, England, Scotland, Ireland, South Africa, parts of the United States, and most of Canada. The move follows recommendations from the Health Select Committee in 2016.
Coverage of the issue includes:
RNZ: Car smoking ban: ‘10,000 less asthma episodes’
Stuff: Smoking and vaping in cars with children to be banned
Newstalk ZB: Smoking in cars with kids banned
NZ Herald: Kate Hawkesby: Will police really enforce a ban on smoking in cars with kids?
Newshub: Duncan Garner: Smokefree by 2025 a farcical goal