Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Canadian Medical Association Encourages Policy Makers to Enact Ban on Smoking in Cars, But Not in Homes

A press release issued by the Canadian Medical Association last Friday urges policy makers throughout Canada to protect children from secondhand smoke by banning smoking in cars, but not to protect those same children by eliminating tobacco smoke exposure in the home.

According to the press release: "The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) urges all levels of government to move now to make it illegal to smoke in vehicles carrying children. ... 'By banning smoking in cars carrying children, governments would be removing a substantial threat to health of Canada's children', said Dr. Brian Day, President of the CMA. 'We all strive to make our children's health the best possible, a Canada-wide ban would be a step toward achieving that goal.' Over 260 physician-delegates from across the country who attended the CMA's annual meeting in August in Vancouver recognized the importance of such legislation when they adopted the following resolution: 'The Canadian Medical Association urges all levels of government to implement a Canada-wide ban on smoking in vehicles carrying children.' Infants and children are more severely affected by the exposure of second-hand smoke than adults because they are smaller, have immature immune systems and have higher respiratory rates. ... 'Canada's doctors see the harmful effects of smoking every day in our practices. We encourage all the Canadian legislatures to play a leadership role and send an unequivocal message to smokers not to smoke in the presence of children', said Dr. Day."

The Rest of the Story

The rest of the story is that if Canada's physicians are so concerned about protecting infants and children from secondhand smoke exposure, since they have "immature immune systems" and "higher respiratory rates," then why are they apparently content to allow parents to continue to smoke around children in their homes? Why only ban smoking in cars, when we know that secondhand smoke exposure in the home is the primary source of infection and respiratory problems in infants and children, dominating the effects of tobacco smoke exposure in cars.

While the CMA mentions that it wants to send an unequivocal message that smokers shouldn't smoke in the presence of their children, it is instead sending the opposite message: smoking around children is not OK in cars, but it's OK in your home.

How does the CMA justify its support of banning smoking in cars, but its apparent unwillingness to support banning smoking around children and infants in the home? According to the CMA itself, such a step would "be removing a substantial threat to health of Canada's children."

I'm very curious to hear how the CMA, or other health and anti-smoking groups which want to send a message that smoking around children is unacceptable in cars, but acceptable in homes, would justify this position.

I don't think it can be justified, and thus I oppose car smoking bans. If anyone can offer a justification for arguing that smoking around children is acceptable in a home, but not acceptable in a car, please let me know. I'd love to be able to change my position so that it is in accord with the anti-smoking groups.

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