The Government’s plan to prohibit smoking in cars with children is a step closer with the Smoke-free Environments (Prohibiting Smoking in Motor Vehicles Carrying Children) Amendment Bill due to be introduced to Parliament this week.
“These measures will protect children and young people and build healthier communities,” says Associate Minister of Health Jenny Salesa.
“The primary enforcement efforts will be focussed on public education and changing social norms. We have seen over the years behavioural and attitudes change about smoking in New Zealand mainly as a result of the Smokefree Environments Act 1990.
“While past public education and social marketing campaigns about the danger of second-hand smoke exposure in vehicles have had some impact, the rate of reduction of children exposed to smoking in vehicles has slowed. It is time to do more by legislating.
“Too many of our children are exposed to second-hand smoke in the vehicles they usually travel in.
“Second-hand smoke accumulates in vehicles, even with the windows down, and reaches much higher levels than in homes.
“Children are especially vulnerable to the harmful effects of smoking because of their smaller lungs, higher respiratory rate and immature immune systems.
“The Bill will give Police the ability to issue an infringement fee of $50. The Police will also have the discretion to issue warnings, provide information or refer people to stop smoking support services.
“Under the proposed changes, the person smoking will be liable rather than the driver of the vehicle.
“There will be an 18 month lead-in period before the law comes into effect. This time will be used for public education and establishing Police systems and training.
“It is also my intention that vaping and the use of other smokeless tobacco products is prohibited in vehicles when children are present.
“This will be achieved through the Smoke-free Environments (Vaping) Amendment Bill, which will progress through Parliament later in 2019. That Bill will propose to prohibit vaping and the use of smokeless tobacco products in all legislated smokefree areas.
“These measures are part of the Government’s commitment to the goal of reaching our aspirational Smokefree Aotearoa by 2025,” says Jenny Salesa.