Smoking in Cars With Children Should be Banned, Poll Says


  • Smoking Poll Picture

    Smoking Poll Picture

    A new national poll shows that consumers would favor a ban on smoking in cars when kids under 13 are riding in the vehicle. | July 23, 2013

Just the Facts:
  • A University of Michigan Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health reveals that 82 percent of adults support banning smoking in cars when children under 13 are passengers.
  • Seven states already have such smoking bans on the books, with three states — Illinois, Oregon and Utah — enacting it in 2013.
  • The poll also shows 87 percent of adults said they'd support a ban on smoking in businesses where children are allowed.

ANN ARBOR, Michigan — A growing number of states prohibit drivers from smoking when kids are in the car and a new poll suggests that most adults would support similar laws nationwide.

According to the latest University of Michigan Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health, 82 percent of adults support banning smoking in cars when children under 13 are passengers.

Even among current smokers in the poll, more than half supported bans that would protect children from secondhand smoke. For example, 60 percent of current smokers said they'd strongly support or support a ban on smoking in cars with children, compared with 84 percent of former smokers and 87 percent of never-smokers.

In 2013, three states — Illinois, Oregon and Utah — enacted statewide bans on smoking in vehicles carrying children. Between 2006 and 2011, Arkansas, California, Louisiana and Maine led the trend.

Four other states (Hawaii, Indiana, New Jersey and New York) have cities or counties that ban smoking in vehicles with children present.

"Smoke is a real health hazard for kids whose lungs are still developing, and especially for kids who have illnesses like asthma where the lungs are particularly fragile and flare up when exposed to secondhand smoke," said Dr. Matthew M. Davis, director of the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health, in a statement.

He points to a 2006 study by Harvard School of Public Health showing "alarming" levels of secondhand smoke were generated in just five minutes in vehicles under various conditions. According to the California Environmental Protection Agency, secondhand smoke in cars can be 10 times more concentrated than the level considered unhealthy by the U.S. EPA — even if the windows are open.

The poll also reveals 87 percent of adults said they'd support a ban on smoking in businesses where children are allowed. Seventy-five percent expressed support for banning smoking in homes where children have asthma or another lung disease.

"The level of public support for ways to reduce children's exposure to secondhand smoke is so high that now may be the time to for public health officials and legislators to move forward on ideas like these to protect children's health," Davis said.

Edmunds says: Expect this to become a major legislative issue around the country in a very short time.

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