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Ontario private member's bill would ban smoking in cars with kids

The Canadian Press, Friday, December 7, 2007

Ontario was under growing pressure Thursday to become the first province to ban smoking in cars containing young passengers as health advocates rallied around a private member's bill that would outlaw the practice critics liken to child abuse.

Although Premier Dalton McGuinty has said such a ban would be a dangerously slippery slope, health activists say the likelihood of children developing cancer, asthma and heart problems is good enough reason to force people to butt out after they buckle up.

"Second-hand smoke is a killer," said Rocco Rossi, CEO of the Heart and Stroke Foundation. "Therefore we should be protecting our children from it."

Jurisdictions in the United States, Australia and the town of Wolfville, N.S., have all banned smoking in cars where children are present. In British Columbia, a New Democrat politician tabled a private member's bill last month that would also ban the practice.

Car smoking ban 'natural' next step

The private member's legislation being introduced Thursday by Liberal David Orazietti faces a steep battle, since such bills rarely become law unless they are adopted by the government.

Ontario has already banned smoking from bars, restaurants and workplaces. Protecting children in cars from second-hand smoke is a "natural" next step, Rossi said.

"We already regulate in the car - we require seatbelts and child seats to protect our children," he said. "We're not breaking new ground. We're not going down a slippery slope, because the state is already in the car."

Michael Perley of the Ontario Coalition for Action on Tobacco said the province already has all kinds of other laws protecting children from abuse, so a ban on smoking in cars with kids should be no different.

"These are very young people who are not in a position, in that environment, to do anything to protect themselves," Perley said.

"They can't stand up and step out of the car at 60 miles an hour. The youngest ones aren't even in a position to know that anything bad is being done to them."

One cigarette in car worse than smokiest bar

Health experts say second-hand smoke is extremely detrimental to a child's health - particularly in a car. Cynthia Callard, executive director of Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada, said smoking one cigarette in a car is worse for a child's health than taking them into the smokiest bar.

The exposure can cause a whole host of illnesses, from ear infections to cancer, she said.

"Parents do not have a blanket right to harm their children, and putting a child in a car with smoke is certainly harming the child," said Callard, adding areas that have brought in a ban have seen people voluntarily obey the law.

The government's reluctance to adopt a ban seems to say that the Liberals are Read More ..ncerned about interfering with parents that they are about the health of children, she added.

Irene Gallagher, with the Ontario division of the Canadian Cancer Society, said it would be nice if parents voluntarily refrained from smoking around their kids or kicked the habit altogether.

"We feel that when they buckle up, they should butt out," she said. "They should be thinking about the effects of second-hand smoke."

But until that happens, Gallagher said children need to be protected in law.

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Health Canada Publication

The Invisible Boy: Revisioning the Victimization of Male Children and Teens

"... the existence of a double standard in the care and treatment of male victims, and the invisibility and normalization of violence and abuse toward boys and young men in our society.

Despite the fact that over 300 books and articles on male victims have been published in the last 25 to 30 years, boys and teen males remain on the periphery of the discourse on child abuse.

Few workshops about males can be found at most child abuse conferences and there are no specialized training programs for clinicians. Male-centred assessment is all but non-existent and treatment programs are rare. If we are talking about adult males, the problem is even greater. A sad example of this was witnessed recently in Toronto. After a broadcast of The Boys of St. Vincent, a film about the abuse of boys in a church-run orphanage, the Kids' Help Phone received over 1,000 calls from distraught adult male survivors of childhood sexual abuse. It is tragic in a way no words can capture that these men had no place to turn to other than a children's crisis line." Read More ..