Lung As­so­ci­a­tion wants driv­ers to butt out in cars with kids

The Compass - - NEWS - BY DENISE PIKE

Peo­ple who smoke in cars car­ry­ing chil­dren could be slapped with a fine.

That’s what could hap­pen if the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment leg­is­lates a ban en­sur­ing peo­ple butt out when trans­port­ing young pas­sen­gers in ve­hi­cles.

The call for the change is com­ing from the New­found­land and Labrador Lung As­so­ci­a­tion who have joined forces with the prov­ince’s Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion (NLMA), As­so­ci­a­tion of Reg­is­tered Nurses (ARNNL), Cana­dian Can­cer So­ci­ety (CCS) and the Al­liance for the Con­trol of To­bacco (ACT). The group is lob­by­ing the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment to pass the ban in the House of As­sem­bly.

“It is sim­ply not ac­cept­able that some chil­dren are forced to ride in cars when peo­ple are smok­ing,” said Niki Legge, di­rec­tor of the Smokers Help Line for the New­found­land and Labrador Lung As­so­ci­a­tion.

“This is a se­ri­ous pub­lic health is­sue that needs to be ad­dressed.”

The quest to ban smok­ing in cars car­ry­ing chil­dren is an ex­ten­sion of a Stop Smok­ing in Cars - Our Kids De­serve it cam­paign launched by the Lung As­so­ci­a­tion in Jan­uary 2008.

“The ban has been at least a year in the mak­ing,” said Legge. “In that time we’ve drummed up a lot of com­mu­nity sup­port for this con­cern. Peo­ple from all across the prov­ince sent let­ters to their MHAs in sup­port of it and both the RNC and Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties New­found­land and Labrador are on board as well.”

NLMA pres­i­dent Doc­tor El­iz­a­beth Cal­la­han, says ex­pos­ing chil­dren to to­bacco smoke is a se­ri­ous health risk.

“The gov­ern­ment has al­ready adopted sig­nif­i­cant leg­isla­tive mea­sures to pro­tect the health and safety of chil­dren, in­clud­ing mea­sures to pro­tect them from en­vi­ron­men­tal smoke,” said Cal­la­han.

“Given what we know about the neg­a­tive im­pacts of to­bacco smoke on chil­dren and the sup­port that a ban on smok­ing has right across the coun­try, we urge gov­ern­ment to move on this as quickly as pos­si­ble.”

Num­bers to prove it

The Cana­dian Can­cer So­ci­ety feels the vast ma­jor­ity of Cana­di­ans - and even a solid ma­jor­ity of Cana­di­ans who smoke - sup­port a ban on smok­ing in cars car­ry­ing kids and they have the num­bers to prove it.

A poll, com­mis­sioned by the Cana­dian Can­cer So­ci­ety, con­ducted Dec. 12,2008 to Jan. 3,2009 by En­vi­ron­ics, sug­gested 82 per cent of Cana­di­ans agreed that smok­ing should be pro­hib­ited in cars trans­port­ing chil­dren and teenagers un­der the age of 18.

Among smokers who re­sponded to the tele­phone sur­vey, 69 per cent sup­ported the idea.

A to­tal of 2,032 Cana­di­ans took part in the poll, which is con­sid­ered ac­cu­rate to within plus or mi­nus 2.2 per­cent­age points, 19 times out of 20.

On April 1, 2008 Nova Sco­tia be­came the first prov­ince to leg­is­late a ban on smok­ing in cars car­ry­ing chil­dren, af­ter the town of Wolfville, N.S., passed a mu­nic­i­pal by­law ban­ning the prac­tice a few months ear­lier. Bri­tish Columbia, On­tario, New Brunswick, the Yukon and Prince Ed­ward Is­land have since fol­lowed suite.

“We would like to see this prov­ince join with the rest of Canada to im­ple­ment this kind of ban as well,” said Legge. “Chil­dren and young peo­ple are very sus­cep­ti­ble to the ef­fects of sec­ond-hand smoke, es­pe­cially in an en­closed space such as a car.”

While the leg­is­la­tion will prob­a­bly re­sult in some peo­ple be­ing tick­eted, Legge says pun­ish­ing peo­ple is not the in­ten­tion.

“This is about pro­tect­ing the health of the prov­ince’s chil­dren, ed­u­cat­ing the pub­lic and bring­ing aware­ness to the health risks as­so­ci­ated with sec­ond-hand smoke,” said Legge. “In fact the Lung As­so­ci­a­tion hopes no one ever re­ceives a ticket be­cause that will mean no one was caught smok­ing in a car car­ry­ing kids.”

Ac­cord­ing to a 2005 Cana­dian Com­mu­nity Health Sur­vey 19 per cent of non-smokers 12 to 17 years old were reg­u­larly ex­posed to sec­ond-hand smoke in pri­vate ve­hi­cles.

Re­search pro­vided by the Cana­dian Can­cer So­ci­ety says to­bacco smoke con­tains over 4,000 danger­ous chem­i­cals and car­cino­gens and sec­ond-hand smoke in ve­hi­cles is es­pe­cially po­tent when it is con­cen­trated in a con­fined space.

The same re­search stated chil- dren ex­posed to sec­ond-hand smoke are at a higher risk for many health prob­lems. Chil­dren and ba­bies who are ex­posed to sec­ond hand smoke on a reg­u­lar ba­sis are at higher risk for sud­den in­fant death syn­drome (SIDS), asthma, and ear in­fec­tions. They are also more likely to de­velop can­cer and heart dis­ease as adults. Sec­ond-hand smoke can make symp­toms worse for kids who have asthma or a res­pi­ra­tory in­fec­tion. Ad­di­tion­ally, there is grow­ing ev­i­dence that kids who are ex­posed to sec­ond-hand smoke be­fore and af­ter birth have more be­hav­iour prob­lems, shorter at­ten­tion spans, and lower marks at school than their peers who aren’t ex­posed to smoke.

Legge be­lieves the ban doesn’t in­fringe on the rights of par­ents by forc­ing them to pro­tect their chil­dren.

“This is a com­mu­nity ap­proach to en­sure there are healthy poli­cies in place for chil­dren,” said Legge. “ It’s for their health and well-be­ing and when you think about it there’s al­ready lots of ve­hi­cle leg­is­la­tion in place, such as wear­ing a seat­belt, talk­ing on a cell phone or drink­ing and driv­ing...... this ban is just a con­tin­u­a­tion of the many safe poli­cies al­ready in place.”

Roland But­ler, Port de Grave MHA says he hopes the is­sue is brought be­fore the House of As­sem­bly this com­ing fall.

“I’ll sup­port it one hun­dred per cent,” he said. “I am in to­tal agree­ment with it. Right now we have reg­u­la­tions pre­vent­ing smok­ing in many open ar­eas so it only makes sense that we move to pre­vent it from hap­pen­ing in con­fined spa­ces such as ve­hi­cles where chil­dren may be present. We all know the dan­gers and health con­cerns around in­hal­ing sec­ond-hand smoke. This reg­u­la­tion is al­ready in ef­fect in many prov­inces across Canada and it’s about time our prov­ince came on­board as well.”

While the ban may be dif­fi­cult to mon­i­tor, But­ler be­lieves it will re­sult in a de­crease in smok­ing in ve­hi­cles when young pas­sen­gers are present.

“The re­search shows once reg­u­la­tions are in place and an is­sue or con­cern is mon­i­tored the num­ber of peo­ple par­tic­i­pat­ing or caus­ing the con­cerns de­creases,” said But­ler. “Yes it may be a bit dif­fi­cult to mon­i­tor, es­pe­cially at first, but that’s no rea­son not to go ahead with it. The same was said of cell phone use while driv­ing and seat belt reg­u­la­tions in the beginning, but once the reg- ula­tions were in place and peo­ple were pulled over and tick­eted, we all got the mes­sage pretty quick and there was a de­cline in the num­ber of peo­ple who didn’t wear their seat­belts or talk on the phone while driv­ing.The same will hap­pen in this sit­u­a­tion.”

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