Val­ues go up in smoke

NT News - Motoring - - CARS GUIDE - By PAUL GOVER

SOME­ONE fa­mous once said ‘‘What­ever you do, just don’t smoke.’’

It didn’t help ac­tor Yul Bryn­ner, who sounded the warn­ing af­ter con­tract­ing a fa­tal can­cer, but it could help you at trade-in time.

Keep­ing to­bacco smoke away from your car’s cabin is likely to add hun­dreds, or even thou­sands, to its sec­ond­hand price. And it’s al­most cer­tainly help­ing your health as well.

A friend of Cars­guide emailed to raise the ques­tion of smok­ing in cars.

‘‘I saw a woman in a new BMW5 Se­ries smok­ing with the win­dows up and pon­dered if this would af­fect re­sale. I reckon a non­smoker’s car must be worth more,’’ he says.

A quick call to Glass’s

We­be­lieve that smok­ing does have a detri­men­tal ef­fect when it comes down to car val­u­a­tion

Guide, the Aus­tralian au­thor­ity on sec­ond­hand sales, re­veals noth­ing sub­stan­tial but a clear pointer.

‘‘We do not con­sider smok­ing as a cri­te­ria while pre­dict­ing resid­ual val­ues,’’ says Rashad Parkar.

‘‘How­ever, we be­lieve that smok­ing does have a detri­men­tal ef­fect when it comes down to car val­u­a­tion. If the car con­sists of cig­a­rette marks or dam­aged up­hol­stery due to smok­ing this will neg­a­tively im­pact resid­ual val­ues.’’

But things are more black-and-white in the USA, where re­search shows that even a heavy to­bacco odour can put peo­ple off a car.

The only se­ri­ous study we can find on the sub­ject is from San Diego in 2008 and it says a smoker’s car would be worth up to 9 per cent less in the USA.

Sur­pris­ingly, more than 20 per cent of cars for sale were owned by smok­ers, or had been smoked in dur­ing the pre­vi­ous year, where more than 90 per cent of non-smok­ers banned any sort of to­bacco ig­ni­tion in their cars.

The study is funded by an anti-to­bacco group so needs to be put into con­text, but lists more than 4000 chem­i­cals in sec­ond­hand smoke and nico­tine lev­els 30 times higher in smok­ers’ cars than to­bacco-free cars.

‘‘When to­bacco is smoked in the en­closed en­vi­ron­ments of pas­sen­ger cars, air con­cen­tra­tions of to­bacco smoke pol­lu­tants can be­come ex­tremely high,’’ says Pene­lope Quin­tana, one of the study’s au­thors and a pro­fes­sor in the school of pub­lic health in San Diego.

‘‘Many of the pol­lu­tants at­tach to sur­faces and ac­cu­mu­late in dust and can be re­leased back into the air over days and weeks af­ter smok­ing.’’

The Amer­i­can re­search is nasty stuff but the crack­down on smok­ing since then is bound to be pro­duc­ing an even big­ger im­pact, as smok­ing be­comes less and less tol­er­ated in all ar­eas of ev­ery­day life.

The chang­ing at­ti­tude is also re­flected in the way car com­pa­nies look at smok­ing.

Th­ese days, many cars do not have an ash­tray and the cig­a­rette lighter has be­come a power socket.

It’s a huge con­trast to the days when Jaguar had iden­ti­cal chromed ash re­cep­ta­cles at three points in its XJ limou­sine, al­low­ing the owner — or fiery jour­nal­ists — to ro­tate them un­til all three were to­tally choked and in need of a fullscale clean out.

If you want a cig­a­rette lighter in a BMW you must pay ex­tra. And it’s been that way for years.

But power sock­ets are spread­ing faster than nico­tine ad­dic­tion and most cars have at least three, with the high­est plug-in count we’ve dis­cov­ered in an Amer­i­can SUV with six.

Cig­a­rettes are on the way out but now we’re plug­ging in phone charg­ers and GPS nav­i­ga­tion sys­tems on a daily ba­sis, as well as back­seat en­ter­tain­ment sys­tems and — once again, in the USA — bev­er­age warm­ers for the gi­ant cof­fee con­tain­ers that seem to be com­pul­sory for com­muters.

But we still have to ask if we’re swap­ping one dan­ger for an­other in cars, stubbing out the cig­a­rette threat but plug­ging in gi­ant dis­trac­tions that can lead to more trou­ble than a slump in the sec­ond­hand price.

This re­porter is on Twit­ter @paulward­gover

The smell of stale smoke in a car can have a detri­men­tal ef­fect on the sec­ond­hand sale price and th­ese days many cars do not have an ash­tray or a cig­a­rette lighter

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