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Ban smoking in cars with children: Ontario doctors

CBC News, Thursday, October 14, 2004

Drivers should not be allowed to smoke in their vehicles if they have children as passengers, says the Ontario Medical Association in a new report on the dangers of second-hand smoke.

The report, Exposure to Second-hand Smoke: Are We Protecting Our Kids?, looks at how second-hand smoke in vehicles and the home continues to harm children's health despite moves to reduce smoking in public spaces.

"This report will lead the way in taking action against [second-hand smoke] in spaces that children should feel safe and protected," said Dr. John Rapin, president of the association, which represents the province's physicians. "Physicians see the harmful effects of second-hand smoke on children every day.

"It is even harder knowing that the illnesses they suffer can be prevented."

The OMA says a number of studies have shown that second-hand smoke affects a child's health, increasing the risks of respiratory illnesses including asthma, bronchitis and pneumonia. It also increases the risks of sudden infant death syndrome, and of cancer and heart disease in adulthood.

"Children are especially at risk to the effects of [second-hand smoke] because they are still physically developing and have higher breathing rates than adults," said Dr. Ted Boadway, an OMA director. "Further, children have little control over their indoor environments."

The association says governments such as the province of Ontario should be applauded for banning smoking in public places, but it should do more

The report cites bills that have been introduced in the states of Georgia and New Hampshire that would allow police to pull over and fine a driver for smoking while a child is in the car.