Plunket welcomes ban on smoking with kids in cars

Plunket welcomes the announcement that the Government will be banning smoking in vehicles carrying children under 18 years of age, but says it will require the support of communities to help parents and caregivers to give up smoking.

Jane O’Malley, Plunket’s Chief Nurse, said the evidence is overwhelming that exposure to second-hand smoke is a major risk to children’s health.

“Ongoing education programmes and increased support services are key to effecting long-lasting change. We are pleased that punitive enforcement measures will be a last resort, because this approach is likely to have negative consequences and perpetuate inequities for the most vulnerable families,” says Dr O’Malley. 

Second-hand smoke has been linked to many illnesses experienced by children including respiratory infections, asthma attacks, sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI), glue ear and more. Young children have no way of influencing drivers or adult passengers if they are travelling in a vehicle with a smoker.

Dr O’Malley says Plunket works in partnership with families and whānau to connect them with services that will support them to become smoke-free.

“As Plunket nurses go into the homes of between 85-90% of all newborns and their families and whānau we are in a unique position to see their home environments. From this we know that 23% of the children Plunket see live with a smoker in the house when Plunket first visits them.”

She says the statistics are worse for those living in high deprivation, with 40% of children living with a smoker in the family.

Smoking is highly addictive and people need support and education to help them to give up. “It’s important that there are a range of initiatives aimed at improving the health outcomes for tamariki and whānau, as well as supporting parents to be the best they can be.”

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