Sunday, February 11, 2007

A Must Read for Anti-Smoking Groups: U.S. News & World Report Article on Car Smoking Bans

An article by Dr. Bernadine Healy - a physician - in the Feb. 12 issue of U.S. News & World Report argues that despite the health risks of secondhand smoke for exposed children, banning smoking in cars is not justified.

Dr. Healy, who acknowledges the potential dangers of secondhand smoke for children, argues that banning smoking in cars in not justified for three main reasons:
  1. It goes too far in "policing behavior and trouncing privacy." It opens the door to a slippery slope that includes other intervention such as regulating what foods parents can serve their kids and how much sun they can allow them to get.
  2. It singles out a group which is disproportionately poorer and female (since moms are more likely to be ferrying their kids around places).
  3. It uses a punitive approach, which may not only be less effective than education, but may be much worse. Parents may just decide to smoke in the safe confines of their own home, where exposure of their kids to secondhand smoke is much more serious, as it takes place for many hours (rather than just for minutes in a car).
This is a particularly eloquent, well-reasoned, and compelling commentary. It is indeed a must-read for all anti-smoking groups and advocates working on this issue. (And now I'm not the only physician who has spoken out publicly in opposition to such policies.)

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