The health effects of secondhand smoke (SHS) for children include increased risk of Sudden Infant Death, respiratory tract infections, exacerbations of asthma and ‘glue ear’. Levels of SHS in cars are very high, making SHS exposure in cars a particularly severe health hazard. Many countries, including the UK and states and provinces in Australia, Canada and America, have introduced legislation to prohibit smoking in cars where children are present.
There is no published evidence we are aware of that demonstrates exposure of children to smoking in cars has declined, and hence no evidence to support the Government’s claim that current initiatives are ‘sufficient’. In order to help provide the required evidence, we report an analysis of recent trends in SHS exposure in cars incorporating updated (2013–2015) data from the ASH Year 10 surveys.
These findings suggest that exposure to SHS through smoking in cars continues to be a significant health hazard for many thousands of school students and children in New Zealand, particularly for Māori and Pacific children, who bear a disproportionate burden of SHS-related illness.