Scotland’s MDs first to urge ban on all smoking in vehicles

Israeli smoking prevention council head endorses call, but Health Ministry has not suggested protection even for children.

By JUDY SIEGEL ITZKOVICH
July 1, 2011 06:17
3 minute read.
10,000 ISRAELIS have taken course to quit smoking

man smoking 311. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)

 
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Twenty senior physicians at the Scotland council of the British Medical Association voted on Wednesday to recommend that smoking be completely barred in vehicles.

Until now, various US states and a growing number of countries have prohibited smoking in cars only when children are inside, but no country or state has already barred smoking completely in vehicles.

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There is no legislation in Israel or even a Health Ministry plan to protect children this way as part of the ministry’s new smoking-reduction proposals to be brought to the Ministerial Committee on Legislation in a few weeks.

Following the BMA debate in Cardiff, joint deputy chairman of the council Dr. Charles Saunders said: “Tobacco smoke is a potent cocktail of over 4,000 toxins, including 50 known to cause cancer.

Smoking in the confined space of a car is therefore a toxic threat to health, and people sharing a car with a smoker will be exposed to incar particle concentrations 27 times higher than in a smoker’s home, and 20 times higher than the levels found in a smoky pub before the ban on smoking in public places was introduced.

“Rolling down the window does not eliminate this risk,” Saunders said.

Asked to comment, Amos Hausner, chairman of the Israel Council for the Prevention of Smoking, said he strongly advocates barring all smoking in vehicles as it will save lives: not only because it will stop sidestream (secondhand) smoking by passengers – children and adults, but also because it will be much safer.

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“A driver with a cigarette in his hand does not have two hands on the steering wheel.

Smokers’ attention is disrupted by smoking,” said Hausner, a veteran lawyer and smokingprevention activist. “Studies have shown that smokers have more road accidents than non-smokers.”

Hausner noted that four years ago, the Transport Ministry sponsored public service messages urging people not to smoke in cars, but it was not made a law.

One example of the danger was the case some years ago of a father driving his young child, who was in the back.

When a lit cigarette fell out of his hand to the floor, the man bent down while driving to retrieve it, crashed into a wall and killed his son.

“Children exposed to smoking in cars will be at risk of the harmful effects of secondhand smoke, including persistent wheeze and respiratory disorders,” said Saunders. The British Lung Foundation estimates that more than half of eight to 15 year olds have been exposed to smoking in cars, and 86% of children want people to stop smoking when they are in the car.

There is an increasing awareness among the general population of the risks of exposure to secondhand smoke, and banning smoking in cars is another way in which we can protect non-smokers from the risk of harm from such smoke.”

The US states that have already barred smoking in vehicles in which minors are passengers are Arkansas, California, Louisiana, Maine and Oregon, as well as Puerto Rico.

In Queensland, Australia, a smoking ban in cars with minors under the age of 16 has been in force since January 2010, with violators caught fined 200 Australian dollars on the spot; in Victoria, a smoking ban in cars with minors under the age of 18 went into force on the same date.

In Bahrein and the United Arab Emirates, a ban on smoking in cars carrying children has been in effect for a couple of years. A growing number of other countries such as Cypus and South Africa are legislating similar bans.

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