New anti-smoking laws protect children

Smokefree advocates, from left, Carly McDowell (Community Public Health) and Mandy Casey (Cancer Society Mid Canterbury) with some parents, caregivers and children of Merle Leask Kindergarten.

Child health is at the centre of a new law which comes into effect this month banning smoking and vaping in cars carrying children.

The new legislation limits the exposure of children, aged 18 and under, to second-hand smoke and vape in a vehicle.

It becomes law from Sunday, November 28 and covers whether the vehicle is moving or not.

Smokefree advocates Mandy Casey, of Cancer Society Mid Canterbury, and Carly McDowell of Community Public Health, were set up outside Merle Leask Kindergarten this week handing out car stickers and car air fresheners to remind parents and caregivers of the new law.

The reminder drew positive response from those dropping children at the kindy.

People who smoke or vape in cars with children, aged under 18, are encouraged to make their car smokefree.

The law change was about tamariki and protecting future generations.

“Children can’t get away from the smoke in your car. Opening or winding down the window doesn’t remove all the poisons in second-hand smoke.

“The poisons will stay long after the smoke and smell have disappeared.”

The legislation includes teenagers who are driving mates aged under-18 too, Mrs McDowell said.

While choosing to drive smokefree may be tough at first, it would get easier but required a conscious effort to stop such as swapping smokes for chewing gum, turning up the music, sipping a non-alcoholic drink or putting smokes and vapes out of sight in the glovebox.

“Children who are exposed to second-hand smoke are more likely to develop illnesses such as chest infection, glue ear and asthma. Exposure to second-hand smoke increases the risk of sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI).”

Young people who had friends or whanau who smoked were also more likely to become smokers themselves.

Anyone caught breaking the law, which was passed in May 2020, will be liable for a fine of $50, or a court imposed fine of up to $100, or could be referred to stop smoking services.