New Zealand associate health minister Jenny Salesa has announced the government’s decision to ban smoking in cars in which kids are present. The law change will come into effect by an amendment to the Smoke-free Environments Act 1990. Anyone caught breaking the law could be fined upto 50 NZD.

Associate Health Minister Jenny Salesa said too many children, especially Māori and Pasifika, were exposed to second-hand smoke in vehicles.

She said children were especially vulnerable to second-hand smoke because of their smaller lungs, higher respiratory rates and immature immune systems.

“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,” Salesa said.

“First and foremost, this change is about protecting children. However, it is also part of the Government’s commitment to achieving Smokefree 2025,” the minster added.

She expected the Smoke-free Environments Act 1990 to be changed by the end of this year.

Similar smoke ban in these countries

Australia, England, Scotland, Ireland, South Africa, parts of the United States, and most of Canada already have such bans.

The ban has got the approval of the Children’s Commissioner, Judge Andrew Becroft, who said he was deeply encouraged by the move. Becroft said, “My plea to all politicians is let’s make this cross-party. This can’t be a political football and meshed with political mumbo-jumbo about freedom of choice. Children don’t have choice.”

100,000 children a week are exposed to second-hand smoke as per a research by ASH in 2014.

Smoking is bad not only for the smoker but also for others around them. Passive smokers breathe in the smoke secondhand and can get many of the same problems as smokers do. This includes heart disease and lung cancer. Children exposed to secondhand smoke have a higher risk of ear infections, colds, pneumonia and other respiratory disease.

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