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To think that smoking in a car with children should be made illegal!

(93 Posts)
longbay Mon 27-Jan-14 22:26:58

Was sitting in my car at the traffic lights, when another car pulled alongside me with a baby (approx 9-12 months) sitting in the back. The man driving the car was smoking. All the windows were up except his which was open a couple of inches.
Firstly I was absolutely shocked that people still smoke near children let alone trapped in a car. Then I felt real anger & rage that I couldn't do anything about what I had seen. AIBU to feel so enraged by that man's behavior? I want to start a petition but wouldn't have a clue how?!

ProfPlumSpeaking Wed 29-Jan-14 16:00:31

shebird yy about education. And I am sure you are right about those who smoke in cars also smoking in the home BUT
- there is 23 times the level of pollution in a car from secondhand smoke as in the home
- not being allowed by law to smoke in a car with their DC just might make parents think twice before doing it in the same room as their DC at home.

MomsStiffler YY to making smoking illegal, over time.

SwishAndFlick Wed 29-Jan-14 14:19:36

So what if its an addiction, people who smoke also travel by plane where smoking banned. If these people can go two maybe longer hours without smoking surely they can go a car journey without smoking too.

MomsStiffler Wed 29-Jan-14 13:02:07

ProfPlum AFAIK you cannot smoke hands free.

Indeed, or change gear, or tune the radio or do many, many other things that non-smokers and smokers do whilst behind the wheel.

If cars only moved when a driver had both hands on the wheel, we'd never get off the drive, so please don't roll that tired old chestnut out.

A non-smoking parent with noisy kids playing up in the back of the car is just as lethal in "a fast moving tonne of steel" as someone taking a small suck of a ciggie every 30 seconds.....

To be honest, the only way forwards to this conundrum is for the driver to be sealed away from the rest of the car in their own compartment so they can't hear, smell or see the other distractions occupants of the car. This would also solve the smoking issue.

Or, as I said before, they could just make smoking illegal & that'd solve all the problems with regards to accidents, cancer, NHS waiting lists etc...

shebird Wed 29-Jan-14 12:01:22

While I agree in theory I am not sure that this gets to the root of the smoking issue but just pushes it behind closed doors. I suspect that the type of parent who smokes with children in the car would also probably smoke around children at home.

What is needed is education along with strong and relentless media and tv anti smoking advertising campaigns that remind smokers of the consequences of their actions. Also by educating the family and children of smokers they are less likely to tolerate the smoker around them. My DM smoked when I was growing up and a tv advert showing a man dying of lung cancer upset me so much that she quit.

ProfPlumSpeaking Wed 29-Jan-14 11:38:50


"What if smokers decided to run a campaign of driving dolls around in car seats - how much police time could they waste? (If I was a smoker I'd do it just to make a point...)"

What precise point would you be making? Do you go round with a blow up baby not strapped into a babyseat to waste police time atm?

But you do have a slight point: the law would be easier to enforce if it were a blanket ban, so even drivers (especially drivers) should not devote any attention to smoking whilst they are manoeuvring a fast moving tonne of steel. AFAIK you cannot smoke hands free.

JassyRadlett Wed 29-Jan-14 11:14:34

Ach, no, Wallison. I'm happily confident that my position is backed up by actual evidence as well as by public opinion (cf YouGov, Ipsos surveys) which can of course be ropey and not evidence based. I'm trying to figure out whether the positions of others is based on evidence, emotion, ideology or a combination of same. I quite like trying to understand where other people are coming from if their views differ from mine. Often their explanations have caused me to change my views, which I don't see as a sign of weakness. One of the good things about Mumsnet is the weath of posters with different views who are willing to explain why they feel that way.

You'll note that my posts have considered your arguments rather than you as a person, because that's what I find interesting. If your position is based on libertarian principles then fine - I think from your last post then that's probably the case. I'd be keen to know where you draw the line about individual freedoms vs collective benefits.

Interesting point on smoking in the home as I agree it's a thorny issue particularly when considering where it is/isn't OK to smoke. But some of the scientific research I mentioned earlier seemed to suggest that smoking in a car was more harmful than smoking in the home, which I found interesting. It's all about frequency/volumes though, I guess.

SDTGisAnEvilWolefGenius Wed 29-Jan-14 11:14:11

Wallison - I didn't ask you to be answerable for my mother's actions - I asked you for your opinion of her actions. Where did I assume you could be answerable for her actions?

Aussiemum78 Wed 29-Jan-14 11:01:33

It's illegal here. Fine and points. As it should be.

It's also illegal to smoke in public buildings.

Every opportunity to reduce exposure is a good thing IMO.

Wallison Wed 29-Jan-14 10:58:49

Wow, JassyRadlett, you're really rattled, aren't you? Perhaps you'd be better off googling rather than conducting a character precis of me, fascinating though I'm sure I am.

SDTG, I'm not answerable for your mother's actions. Can't think why you would assume otherwise.

There are so many worse things that parents can do to children - including smoking around them in the house although I have to say that given this was the norm in for eg the 70s it doesn't seem to have done that much harm - that concentrating on a ban on this one aspect seems petty in the extreme, and just one other way of limiting people's capacity for self-determination which has been a hallmark of all the anti-smoker laws that have come to pass so far. For me, the fact that even e-cigs (which are harmless) are banned points to not a concern about public health but about trying to control people's smallest actions, which makes me feel very uncomfortable indeed.

MomsStiffler Wed 29-Jan-14 10:34:00

How's it going to be policed? Have you noticed any reduction in the amount of people on mobile phones in cars since they changed the law? I certainly haven't....

What if smokers decided to run a campaign of driving dolls around in car seats - how much police time could they waste? (If I was a smoker I'd do it just to make a point...)

While I agree it's not right & shouldn't be done, I'm not convinced that criminalising another subset of people is the right way to go about it.

If the government was serious they'd just make smoking illegal (and lose all that lovely revenue)...

Gileswithachainsaw Wed 29-Jan-14 10:33:17

I wonder how many accidents would be caused by people gagging for a fix of nicotine

It's probably not comparable to accidents causes by the distraction of kids coughing or puking or whining. Or tiredness from being up all night with a child who's been coughing half the night as a result of being around smoke.

Surely these people hold down jobs etc they cope in the office why not the ten min school run?

Be interesting to see stats though.

Birdsgottafly Wed 29-Jan-14 10:27:52

- "do you feel my mum was being reasonable when she refused to stop smoking in the car, despite being told how sick it made me feel?"

Was that the only time that she carried out poor parenting, though, honestly?

You can only use the law if the reaserch is present to back it up. So how much exposure in that bicolored incident and what it did, would have to be proven.

Given most of us grew up with passive smoking (my teachers smoked in the class room), I doubt the reaserch would be there.

Birdsgottafly Wed 29-Jan-14 10:22:28

"that if caught again that they can be charged with something more serious like neglect??"

At the moment you couldn't use the law to prosecute because you would have to show that the level of passive smoking from that one incident did constitute neglect, to a level worth taking it to court.

If the law of neglect was extended then the first prosecutions should come from those giving their children a bad diet, or even sugar, we know for sure how much exposure will cause disease.

I, to, hated my parents smoking, however knowing lots of smokers and having to travel with them, I wonder how many accidents would be caused by people gagging for a fix of nicotine.

I, also know people who have given up and they have been vile whilst doing so, so I can imagine the child having a hard time, especially as they are the cause of the parent not being able to smoke.

I would like no-one to smoke, ever, but I don't think the ban would do what it aims to.

SDTGisAnEvilWolefGenius Wed 29-Jan-14 10:20:16

Wallison - do you feel my mum was being reasonable when she refused to stop smoking in the car, despite being told how sick it made me feel?

I would welcome a ban on smoking in cars where children are passengers, if only to protect children from that sort of poor treatment.

JassyRadlett Wed 29-Jan-14 09:51:30

Wallison, I'm more than happy to engage on the issues - and I'm petty good at critical evaluation of material on the web (which is why the peer review process, and referring to sources where appropriate, is helpful, and I should have done that from the outset - apologies, posting by phone is limiting).

I haven't called you names. I've called your arguments and your rhetoric names, because that's how they come across. They suggest desperation as you don't feel you have an effective counter to the substantive arguments or issues. You've said nothing so far to change my views on that.

You've refused to engage on the issues, instead latching on to side issues and hyperbolising them. You have used phrases like 'hysterical crap' (before I engaged with you), 'chopping people's heads off', used multiple exclamation marks and took an odd segue onto Taiwanese songs (again, I refer you to the UK's national anthem which probably seems odd to those outside the Anglocentric tradition). None of these things have led me to think you're interested in an actual, reasoned discussion.

I'm more than happy to debate this one - as a PP has said, this is an issue of balance between the rights of the individual and the rights of those with less power, such as children. In that context, actual scientific evidence of the impact is useful.

PleaseJustLeaveYourBrotherAlon Wed 29-Jan-14 09:19:35


Wallison Wed 29-Jan-14 09:19:13

I'm not the one who started bandying words like 'hysterical' around, JassyRadlett. I'm sure your googling skills are excellent (and of course everything that appears on the net is solid gold standard research and unbiased in every way), but maybe cut down on the personal insults if you want to be taken seriously.

Mim78 Wed 29-Jan-14 08:29:28

Surely they could just get a fine (and mmaybe points) - that would be a reasonable penalty.

ProfPlumSpeaking Wed 29-Jan-14 08:25:41

It should go further and be a blanket ban. If the smoker is alone then he/she is driving and therefore not in full control. If he/she is a passenger then he/she is inflicting secondhand smoke on at least one other person.

"Enforcement" is not too much of an issue. Most people choose to obey the law just because it is the law. There will always be some who don't and eventually the law will catch up with them.

I remember when smoking was first banned on flights, there was a cry about human rights and how could smokers go 7 or 8 hours without a cigarette. Well, somehow they manage. They will learn to cope without their cigarettes on car journeys soon enough. (And it could even benefit their own health)

JassyRadlett Tue 28-Jan-14 23:45:27

Wallison, your logic is of course unimpeachable, and my mentioning of studies by scientists and medical professionals is of course completely equivalent to your feeling that they probably aren't right and your fondness for exclamation marks and hyperbole to make your point.

I'm generally quite interested in peer reviewed studies and literature reviews, and less in name-calling. I will admit I haven't done the studies myself but I have more faith in the peer review process than in your gut feeling. It is in fact quite shocking that the accumulations of smoke in a car persist to that level - and would probably surprise many people. Though clearly not enough in your case to persuade you of the view that smoking in cars is detrimental to passengers and in particular to children.

Perhaps you'd like to check out the BMA's work, Evans J and Chen Y in Inhalation Toxicology 2009, the Royal College of Physicians, a group of studies in from the US on tobacco smoke concentration in vehicles vs controlled chambers (Journal of Exposure Analysis and Environmental Epidemiology 1992 has the really interesting one), the Australian Medical Journal, and a host of others I turned up five minutes' worth of Googling, so that you can check out their methodology for yourself and see if it lives up to the exacting standards of your gut feeling.

But then, I'm open to others' evidenced points of view rather than deciding that Taiwan is a country full of human rights abuses with no apparent evidence beyond an anecdote about a song, so what would I know? (By the way, have you checked out the British national anthem recently?)

Redbinneo, well, if you're transporting them by car anyway of course it is safer not to smoke while doing it. I suspect the same is true of transporting them by foot (a number of jurisdictions ban smoking within a certain distance of children's playgrounds or public buildings). And there is evidence (eg a study by the Monash University Accident Research Centre) that smoking while driving increases the risk of a crash.

redbinneo Tue 28-Jan-14 23:11:19

Midnite,having a pop at another poster for abuse of logic while you are prepared to equate secondary smoking to drink driving is wee bit hypocritical.

MidniteScribbler Tue 28-Jan-14 23:04:32

Telling people to pull over to phone or smoke is all very well, but next time your on a long windy A/B road count the lay-bys. Especially those you'd spot if you didn't know the road.

So because people are too stupid to pull off to the side of the road correctly they should just be allowed to keep exposing their children to second hand smoke? Great logic there. Bit like allowing people to drink and drive or speed since they're going to do it anyway.

redbinneo Tue 28-Jan-14 22:57:59

I wonder if smoking in a car with children present presents more of risk than actually transporting them by car in the first place. Probably not,but one risk is seen as acceptable (currently), the other is demonised.

MrsTerryPratchett Tue 28-Jan-14 22:57:43

And Canada, which is considered a bastion of human rights. What's your point?

Wallison Tue 28-Jan-14 22:42:17

And yet Taiwanese people sing hymns to their leader. I'm not convinced.

Nor am I convinced by the anti-smoking brigade's studies; how can a space with an open window with a fan on be more harmful than an enclosed space. You talked about hysteria upthread. Pot, kettle.

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