Smoking ban in cars gains traction

An anti-smoking activist believes that laws preventing smoking in cars containing children will work.

The McGuinty government has endorsed proposed legislation to ban adults from smoking in cars with children under the age of 16. Earlier this month at the Hospital for Sick Children, McGuinty said that the government will introduce the legislation this spring.

Michael Perley, director of the Ontario Campaign for Action on Tobacco, says that the law will be effective in keeping children away from second-hand smoke inhalation.

“The law will work,” Perley said. “It won’t take many people to be given a ticket for the word to get around and for people to realize that smoking in front of children is not a good thing to do.”

Perley says that the ban will encourage adults to quit smoking in front of children in other environments as well, not just inside vehicles.

“I think the ban will have people saying: ‘Gee… if it’s bad to smoke in the car, it must be bad to smoke in the house,'” Perley said. “I think the law will have a spill-over effect.”

Some argue that smoking in homes with children is a much larger issue than smoking in cars with children. But Rick Byun, spokesperson for the Ontario Ministry of Health promotions, begs to differ.

“According to the Ontario Medical Association, it is 27 times more harmful to inhale second-hand smoke in a car than it is to inhale second-hand smoke inside a home,” Byun said. “…Banning smoking in vehicles is absolutely the right thing to do…”

According to Perley, the fine for disobeying the law is a strong deterrent.

“The fine for smoking in a vehicle with children will be similar to the fine of not wearing a seat belt,” Perley said. “It is not a small fine for the average individual.”

According to the website, “the fine for not wearing an appropriate restraint system, or not wearing it correctly, is $60-$500.”

Just because the ban is against adults who smoke in front of their children, doesn’t mean that adult smokers who have children are against the ban.

Jennifer Martin, senior customer service agent at The Brick in Markham, smokes and is a mother of a three-year-old girl. And even though she smokes nearly half a pack a day, she never smokes in front of her child.

“Anyone who smokes in front their children has no decency and is disgusting,” Martin said. “I know first-hand of people who smoke in front of their child … It’s disgusting.”

According to Perley, the bill will be introduced as a government bill in April or May. He expects the bill to be passed very quickly because he says all parties have indicated that they support it.