Smartphone app shows Australians smoke less in cars than New Zealanders

March 4, 2013

Research just published indicates that New South Wales has one third of the people smoking in cars compared to New Zealand.

Of nearly 5000 cars observed in Sydney, only 1% had smokers, compared to 2.9% of 10,000 cars in New Zealand. Since 2009, vehicles have legally been required to be smokefree in when there is a child under 16 as a passenger, but there is no similar law in New Zealand.

University of Otago, Wellington researcher, Associate Professor Nick Wilson, says that the much lower level of cars with people smoking in Sydney is likely to be a result of the New law.

He says smoking in cars creates extremely high levels of pollution, even higher than in smoky pubs, and impacts on the health of children and non-smokers.

"This is further evidence why New Zealand politicians need to protect children with a law against smoking in cars. We have laws for and by drivers, and protecting children's health is also very important."

He added that "while New Zealand used to be an international leader in controlling the tobacco epidemic, it is now falling behind Australia in a number of areas such as smoking in cars and plain packaging of tobacco packs."

"Second-hand smoke in a car is 23 times more toxic than in a house, due to the enclosed space," says Dr Tristram Ingham, Medical Adviser for the Asthma Foundation. "Smoke-exposed children have more respiratory and ear infections, chronic bronchitis, wheezing, and asthma. They also have more frequent medical visits, are hospitalised more frequently, and miss more schooldays."

The research involved developing an app for smartphones to allow observers to count cars with people smoking. The app is available free from the TobaccoFree website, and app users who register on the website can download new observations on smoking in cars from anywhere in the world. Currently, both Android and (iOS) versions are supported.

Another University of Otago researcher, Dr Mariusz Nowostawski, says that both the smartphone application and website source code are freely available. This means they can be used as the basis for further refinements to the existing , or the code can be used as a basis for other usages. Those uses could include counting observed mobile phone use in cars to help improve the effectiveness of the law on use.

This study has been published in the international journal Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

Explore further: Children from lower-socioeconomic area more likely to be exposed to smoke in cars

More information: Download the app for free from the NZDIS TobaccoFree website.

Related Stories

Children from lower-socioeconomic area more likely to be exposed to smoke in cars

December 8, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- Children from a lower socio-economic area in Wellington, Wainuiomata, are 11 times more likely to be exposed to cigarette smoking in cars than in the wealthier suburb of Karori, according to recent research.

British government should ban smoking in cars: doctors

November 16, 2011
Britain should introduce a ban on all smoking in cars to protect people from second-hand smoke, a leading doctors' union said Wednesday.

Study finds smokefree playground policies can make a difference

January 23, 2013
British and New Zealand playgrounds have a significantly smaller proportion of people smoking than other types of public outdoor areas, according to latest research from the University of Otago, Wellington.

Many smokers light up with kids in car, study says

November 12, 2012
(HealthDay)—Only one-quarter of smoking parents adopt a strict smoke-free car policy, and nearly half who don't enforce such a ban light up while driving with their children, a new study indicates.

Smoking in cars produces harmful pollutants at levels above WHO indoor air quality standards

October 15, 2012
Smoking during car journeys pumps harmful particulate matter into the indoor air space at levels that far exceed World Health Organization guidance—even when the windows are open or air conditioning is switched on—finds ...

Recommended for you

Blowing smoke? E-cigarettes might help smokers quit

July 26, 2017
People who used e-cigarettes were more likely to kick the habit than those who didn't, a new study found.

Brain disease seen in most football players in large report

July 25, 2017
Research on 202 former football players found evidence of a brain disease linked to repeated head blows in nearly all of them, from athletes in the National Football League, college and even high school.

Safety of medical devices not often evaluated by sex, age, or race

July 25, 2017
Researchers at Yale and the University of California-San Francisco have found that few medical devices are analyzed to consider the influence of their users' sex, age, or race on safety and effectiveness.

Why you should consider more than looks when choosing a fitness tracker

July 25, 2017
A UNSW study of five popular physical activity monitors, including Fitbit and Jawbone models, has found their accuracy differs with the speed of activity, and where they are worn.

Dog walking could be key to ensuring activity in later life

July 24, 2017
A new study has shown that regularly walking a dog boosts levels of physical activity in older people, especially during the winter.

Study finds 275,000 calls to poison control centers for dietary supplement exposures from 2000 through 2012

July 24, 2017
U.S. Poison Control Centers receive a call every 24 minutes, on average, regarding dietary supplement exposures, according to a new study from the Center for Injury Research and Policy and the Central Ohio Poison Center, ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

snowbird
not rated yet Mar 05, 2013
Smoking in cars
Where is the protection for 16 years old and over

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.