Source: Radio New Zealand, 2 May 2017
Health organisations and public health experts say there
is no logic to the government's refusal to ban smoking in cars
In response to a petition, the Health Select Committee late last
year recommended smoking in cars be banned if anyone in the vehicle
was under 18 years old.
The government has rejected that, saying there was "no point
putting a law in place that's likely to be flouted" and "present
initiatives are sufficient".
Smoking in cars when children are present is already banned in
the UK, South Africa, Australia, most of Canada, and parts of the
"It's a total mystery to me why they'd reject this
evidence-based effective policy, which has got plenty of
international precedence," said ASH spokesperson Robert
Health Select Committee chair and National MP Simon O'Connor
said he believed a ban would send a message to the public that
smoking around children was unacceptable.
"The committee wanted to make a statement, if you will, that yep
it could be difficult to enforce, maybe it won't change huge
numbers of people's behaviour, but if we're making the statement
that it's not acceptable, maybe that will begin to help and add to
what's already being done," Mr O'Connor said.
A 2012 survey of more than 28,000 New Zealand Year 10 school
students found 23 percent had travelled in a car in the past week
with a smoker.
For Māori, that figure was 40 percent.
A 2014 Ministry of Health funded survey found 97 percent of New
Zealanders supported banning smoking in cars when children were
Three other surveys all returned with support above 90
Cancer Society chief executive John Loof said he was really
curious to know the logic behind the government's decision, because
it did not stack up.
Mr Loof said there were no current initiatives focusing on
smoking in cars.
"These are simple measures to protect the health of our kids,"
The Stroke Foundation also questioned the decision, saying it
did not make sense.
"They've just set up the Ministry for Vulnerable Children but
this was a huge opportunity to protect children that are vulnerable
to second-hand smoke and they've done nothing," Stroke Foundation
spokesperson Julia Rout said.
But Associate Health Minister Nicky Wagner said any measures the
government took to reduce smoking in cars needed to be
"There is no point putting a law in place that's likely to be
flouted. Unless there's clear evidence of smoking while a child is
in a car, it's difficult to enforce. Education and media campaigns
may be more effective."
Ms Wagner said the government already had programmes in place to
encourage New Zealanders to stop smoking and those were getting
"This is where we need to continue to focus our efforts in order
to achieve our goal of a smokefree New Zealand by 2025."