A new law that will be passed to ban smoking and vaping in cars carrying children has been welcomed by health advocates who have been lobbying for legislative change for years.
The law change will come into effect by an amendment to the Smoke-free Environments Act 1990 and the ban is expected to come into effect by the end of the year.
The Government’s Associate Health Minister Jenny Salesa who made the announcement recently said although the change was about protecting children it was also part of the Government’s commitment to achieving Smokefree 2025.
“Too many New Zealand children, particularly Māori and Pacific children, are exposed to second-hand smoke in the vehicles they usually travel in.
“Public education and social marketing campaigns over many years have had some impact, but the rate of reduction in children exposed to smoking in vehicles is slowing. It is now time to do more by legislating,” says Ms Salesa.
“The legislation will also be backed up with a new and innovative public education and social marketing effort. Ultimately, the focus of this change will be on education and changing social norms – not on issuing infringement notices,”
Trevor Simpson the Deputy Executive Director of the Health Promotion Forum of NZ says smoke-free cars is a natural progression towards a smoke-free Aotearoa 2025.
“In a very simple way we can use policy to protect the health of our children and our whanau. At the same time, we can normalise smoke-free cars in a similar way to how we have normalised seatbelts in cars.”
The move has also been welcomed by Children’s Commissioner Andrew Becroft, who said it could benefit 100,000 Kiwi kids every week.
“Once this legislation is passed [children] will no longer be forced to inhale this chemical poison,” Becroft said.
Hāpai Tobacco Control Manager, Mihi Blair, says the law change is a “no-brainer”.
“If the police educate themselves on local services and enable whānau to access support then they shouldn’t need to take a punitive approach unless absolute necessary.”
Under the change, Police will be able to require people to stop smoking in their cars if children (under 18) are present. Police will also be able to use their discretion to give warnings, refer people to stop-smoking support services, or issue an infringement fee of $50.