82 percent of adults support banning smoking when kids are in the car

July 22, 2013, University of Michigan Health System

A new poll shows 82 percent of adults support banning smoking in cars when children under 13 are riding in the vehicle.

According to the latest University of Michigan Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health, support is strong for prohibiting drivers and passengers from when kids are in the car. However, only seven states nationwide have laws banning the practice.

Also in this month's poll, 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.

"Smoke is a real 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 ," says Matthew M. Davis, M.D., M.A.P.P., director of the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health.

Even among current smokers in the poll, more than one 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 under 13 years old present, compared with 84 percent of former smokers and 87 percent of never-smokers.

"Although the number of people smoking has dropped dramatically in the last 50 years, secondhand smoke remains a health risk," says Davis, who is associate professor of pediatrics and internal medicine at the U-M Medical School and associate professor of Public Policy at U-M's Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy.

In 2007 the American Academy of Pediatrics began advocating for specific legislation to prohibit smoking in cars with children present.

A 2006 study by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health found "alarming" levels of secondhand smoke were generated in just five minutes in vehicles under various driving, ventilation, and smoking 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—and it is dangerous even if the windows are open.

Between 2006 and 2011, four states (Arkansas, California, Louisiana and Maine) enacted statewide bans on smoking in vehicles carrying children. In 2013 three states (Utah, Oregon and Illinois) have enacted similar laws.

The violations usually carry a fine and often can be enforced only if a police officer has stopped the driver for a separate traffic violation or other offense, much like current seat belt laws.

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

"But this is about children's health, not about writing tickets. Just having the laws in place raises awareness and discourages the behavior – reducing the chances that kids will be exposed to secondhand smoke," says Davis.

"Given the high level of public support for laws prohibiting smoking in vehicles with children in this poll, it may be that the bans enacted by a small number of states should be considered by many more states, and perhaps at the national level," Davis says. Currently, the federal government prohibits smoking on all commercial flights.

"Forty of the 50 states currently ban smoking in public places in one form or another. At this time, we are not aware of laws at this time that prohibit smoking in homes where children have asthma or other lung conditions. However, 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 says.

Explore further: Too many kids breathe others' smoke in cars: CDC

More information: mottnpch.org/reports-surveys/b … ehicles-kids-present

Related Stories

Too many kids breathe others' smoke in cars: CDC

February 6, 2012
Texting while driving, speeding and back-seat hanky-panky aren't all that parents need to worry about when their kids are in cars: Add secondhand smoke to the list.

Indoor workplace smoking bans garner strong support from Hoosiers

October 30, 2012
Public health researchers examining data from an Indiana Adult Tobacco Survey found nearly 75 percent of Hoosiers support a statewide or community indoor workplace smoking ban.

Denormalizing smoking: Making the case for banning cigarettes in parks and on beaches

July 8, 2013
Many state and local governments have banned smoking in parks and on beaches on the basis that passive smoke is a risk for non-smokers, cigarette butts pollute the environment, and seeing people smoke poses a long-term risk ...

Researchers invent real time secondhand smoke sensor

March 19, 2013
Making headway against a major public health threat, Dartmouth College researchers have invented the first ever secondhand tobacco smoke sensor that records data in real time, a new study in the journal Nicotine and Tobacco ...

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.

Moderate levels of secondhand smoke deliver nicotine to the brain

May 2, 2011
Exposure to secondhand smoke, such as a person can get by riding in an enclosed car while someone else smokes, has a direct, measurable impact on the brain—and the effect is similar to what happens in the brain of the ...

Recommended for you

Marijuana use may not aid patients in opioid addiction treatment

December 4, 2017
Many patients who are being treated for opioid addiction in a medication-assisted treatment clinic use marijuana to help manage their pain and mood symptoms.

For opiate addiction, study finds drug-assisted treatment is more effective than detox

November 23, 2017
Say you're a publicly insured Californian with an addiction to heroin, fentanyl or prescription narcotics, and you want to quit.

Study finds medical cannabis is effective at reducing opioid addiction

November 17, 2017
A new study conducted by researchers at The University of New Mexico, involving medical cannabis and prescription opioid use among chronic pain patients, found a distinct connection between having the legal ability to use ...

Insomnia linked to alcohol-use frequency among early adolescents, says new psychology study

November 8, 2017
Insomnia is linked to frequency of alcohol use among early adolescents, according to new Rutgers University–Camden research.

Large declines seen in teen substance abuse, delinquency

October 25, 2017
More than a decade of data indicates teens have become far less likely to abuse alcohol, nicotine and illicit drugs, and they also are less likely to engage in delinquent behaviors, such as fighting and stealing, according ...

Trying to get sober? NIH offers tool to help find good care

October 3, 2017
The phone calls come—from fellow scientists and desperate strangers—with a single question for the alcohol chief at the National Institutes of Health: Where can my loved one find good care to get sober?

0 comments

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.