Smoking in vehicles with tamariki to be made illegal

By Tema Hemi

Smoking or vaping in vehicles will soon be illegal if people under the age of 18 are in the vehicle. It's expected the ban will be enacted by the end of the year, giving police the authority to pull over and fine drivers for the offence. 

In 2010, the Māori Affairs Select Committee (MASC) recommended that the government should investigate legislation to ban smoking in cars carrying children. 

Surveys show around 90 percent of people support the ban in theory. 

Minister Jenny Salesa says she's concerned that New Zealand children, particularly Māori and Pacific children, are being over exposed to second-hand smoke in vehicles. 

"We're actually not looking at handing out a whole lot of infringement notices.  What we are hoping for is that people will become normalised to the fact that they stop smoking in cars.

"When we look at the folks we will target in terms of encouraging them to stop smoking and to stop smoking around our tamariki, it will be those with the highest smoking rates.  This is definitely one action that we are coming through to enact to ensure that we save our tamariki's lives."

Te Kāea took to the streets to gauge the reaction to the legislation from the public.

"I reckon it's a good idea and people driving these days- they smoke in the car with their kids in the car- that's no good," says one.

Another says, "I think because it's a small confined area and cigarette smoking in the car is not healthy for little children- even though the windows are down it still filters throughout the car."

A third concerned citizen says, "Another thing I find really disappointing is when people are smoking in their cars and then throw the butts away on the street- I don't like that part as well."

Police will be able to use their discretion to give warnings, refer people to stop-smoking support services, or issue a $50 fine if someone is seen smoking with children on board.