Winding down the window isn’t enough

Bay of Plenty health campaigner Candy Blackwell from Hapainga. Photo: Sharnae Hope.

Bay of Plenty health campaigner Candy Blackwell, from smokefree organisation Hapainga, says she loves the idea of a possible ban on smoking in cars around children and pets.

Second-hand smoke contains more than 200 poisons, including 50 that are known to cause cancer.

The car conversation comes after Associate Health Minister Jenny Salesa recently announced she hopes to take the matter to Cabinet before Christmas and introduce legislation early next year.

“I’m an ex-smoker, and that was my place,” says Candy. “I smoked in the car with my kids and I thought winding the window down was enough.

“What you put in your body is your choice, but your kids and babies don’t have a voice, and your pets don’t have a voice, so we need to push for change.”

She says it’s not just second-hand, but also third-hand smoke that is just as toxic.

“If you think about the fact that there are 4000 toxins in a cigarette, and carbon monoxide is one that actually reduces your oxygen intake and you’re exposing your kids to that, it’s a form of abuse.”

Candy asked seven of her clients their opinion on the matter, and all are on-board regarding a total ban on smoking in cars.

“For every single client I’ve been to – and we are talking about people who are smoking or have just quit – 100 per cent agree with it.”

She admits it might be hard to monitor this ban, but believes it will deter most people from smoking in their cars, especially if it becomes a finable offence.

In a SunLive story announcing the possible ban, Plunket chief nurse Jane O'Malley says she hoped police would take a light-handed approach, as people from lower-incomes households, who are more likely to smoke, may not be able to afford a fine.

However, Candy says this shouldn’t be a reason to deter from strict enforcements.

“This frustrates me,” she says. “So they’re poor, so it doesn’t matter if they poison their kids?

“It should be something that is equal. Kids have rights and we should start thinking about kids and pets.”

Hapainga is a free stop smoking service that has been running for two years, with the aim of reducing the proportion of people in New Zealand who use tobacco to less than five per cent by 2025.