Push to outlaw smoking in cars

The battle over banning smoking in private cars has flared again.

Smoking in cars is banned in New South Wales and calls are being made for New Zealand and Britain to follow suit.

Director of anti-smoking charity Ash NZ, Ben Youdan, said legislative action was needed to protect people from second-hand smoke.

Ash previously pushed for a ban on smoking in cars when it made a submission on the Maori Affairs select committee report on tobacco.

The government's response to the report was to support a goal of a smoke-free nation by 2025, including extending smoking restrictions to vehicles, parks and beaches, favouring non-legislative measures. Youdan said the response was "weak".

"Today around one in five students, at Year 10, have been exposed to smoke in cars," he said.

Public pressure was mounting with a recent University of Otago study showing 96% of New Zealanders believe people should not be able to smoke in cars with children inside, he said.

"You're not giving a child the choice when you lock them in the car with smoke. You're ultimately removing the child's right to health and clean air.

"Winding down the window isn't going to make much difference," he said. "It's the same argument we had with smoking in buildings. You'd need a gale force wind to get rid of the harmful elements of tobacco."

Automobile Association motoring affairs general manager Mike Noon said it was up to individuals to decide whether they smoked in cars, as long as they were not distracted by the habit.

"We don't believe it's necessarily a road safety risk. If there were people crashing all over the place because they were lighting cigarettes, we'd be concerned. But that doesn't seem to be the case."

He said AA would not take on the issue because drivers considered their cars to be personal, not public, spaces.

Sunday Star Times