A recent report commisioned by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention highlights the dangers of passive smoking for kids in cars.
The CDC study, reported in a msnbc.com news report, shows that the effects of second-hand smoking in cars could be afffecting 1 in 5 middle and high school kids.
Students were polled in national surveys and asked how many car journeys they had made in the past week with someone smoking in the vehicle. They were not asked who was smoking; the most common answer was one or two days.
This exposes 22 percent of kids to second-hand smoke. The data is based on statistics for 2009 and is showing a decline on previous years, but it still remains a concern to health experts.
For example, a CDC factsheet on passive smoking (The Health Effects of Secondhand Smoke) outlines some of the dangers that are specific to this target age-group. These include an increased risk of ear infections, bronchitis, pneumonia, asthma attacks and general signs of illness such as wheezing and coughing.
In an AP news report the lead author of the CDC study, Brian King, tells parents not to smoke in their cars (or homes) and warns them that opening a car window is not a viable preventive measure. The study also recommends that smoking in cars should be banned more widely.
According to Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights, Arkansas, California, Louisiana, Maine and Puerto Rico have imposed rules on smoking in vehicles carrying a child passenger. These states generally impose an age limit – you cannot smoke in a vehicle if a child under the set age is riding with you.
This is also causing concern outside of the United States. In the UK, for example, the Welsh government has recently launched a three year campaign to encourage people not to smoke in cars with child passengers. A BBC report on the program, Fresh Start Wales, claims that this could ultimately lead to a total ban in the country although this is viewed as a serious step. Similar legislation exists in parts of Australia and Canada, Bahrein and Cyprus; it is also illegal to smoke in a car at all in Mauritius.