New study reignites calls to ban smoking in cars

updated By Talisa Kupenga

One in five Year 10 students, particularly Māori and Pacific, continue to be exposed to smoking in cars according to a report by University of Otago. Researchers say it contradicts Government claims that current initiatives are sufficient to protect children from the dangers of second-hand smoke.

A new study reignites calls to ban smoking in cars but Government still argues it's unnecessary.

Māori Party Co-leader Marama Fox says “I'm sick of Government not backing these calls. I've had children from Wainuiomata come to my office asking for a ban on smoking in cars. The government should support them."

The ASPIRE2025 findings show of the nearly 30,000 students surveyed in 2015, 1/5th reported being in a car while an adult was smoking. A figure which has increased despite an overall drop in smoker numbers and Governments goal of a smokefree NZ by 2025.

Fox says "If they don't create new legislation that will support and help as well as assist smokers then they won't achieve that goal."

Aspire 2025 Co-Director Professor Richard Edwards of The University of Otago Wellington says "these children are being exposed to second-hand smoke and the health hazards now 1/5 children or 1/3 Māori children they need protection now so we need something to be done about that."

A petition last year prompted the Health Select Committee to recommended a smoking ban in cars carrying under 18s, as seen in the UK, Canada, Australia and South Africa, but Government rejected this saying the "present initiatives were sufficient".

Professor Edwards says "there's been a sporadic showing of the adverts on TV but no sustained proper campaign since 2006/2007 so it was a little difficult to know what those "current initiatives" were."

Associate Health Minister Nicky Wagner says cars are not the only place children are exposed to second-hand smoke and the most effective way to protect them is to ensure adults have the support they need to quit.