TORONTO (CP) -- Ontario residents are ready for a ban on smoking in vehicles carrying children, and it's time for the provincial government to enforce one, a representative of the Ontario Medical Association said Wednesday.
"What we're finding is that the public is heavily on side for this and is coming more heavily on side with time," said Dr. Ted Boadway, a health consultant for the OMA, which represents 25,000 doctors across the province.
"And we're also seeing some other communities in North America in particular are beginning to take this up and do something about it, and we haven't yet in Ontario."
Boadway cited figures from the Ontario Tobacco Research Unit that showed support in the province for such a ban increased from 68 per cent in 2002 to 78 per cent in 2005.
Sixty-six per cent of Ontario smokers and 81 per cent of non-smokers supported the ban in 2005, compared to 50 per cent and 73 per cent, respectively, in 2002.
The OMA issued a statement Wednesday urging the provincial government to follow in the footsteps of Bangor, Maine, which approved a new law Jan. 8 prohibiting people from smoking in vehicles transporting children. Violators face fines up to $50 US.
Ontario doctors said Wednesday they applaud the province's smoking ban that went into effect last year, but added that more must be done to increase awareness that adult tobacco use is also a child health problem.
A 2004 report by the OMA found that second-hand smoke is 23 times more toxic in a car than in a house.
"The fact is that in cars you reach some of the highest toxic levels of these poisons that you reach anywhere," Boadway said.
Even very short exposure to second-hand smoke can trigger an asthmatic attack in children, while effects on lung health have a long-term effect, Boadway said.
"Those are things you can't measure at the time, but unfortunately have catastrophic effects later."
Rolling down the windows while lighting up in your car won't help either, Boadway added.
Research has shown that levels of toxins generated by cigarette smoke won't be significantly affected by open windows unless you can generate a "tornado-like wind" in the car, he said.
"If someone wants to get in their car by themselves and poison themselves away, that's their right to do so . . . and there's not much we can do about that," Boadway said.
"But the problem is poisoning someone else, and particularly children, who are vulnerable and who can't often speak up for themselves."
Nancy Daigneault, president of tobacco industry-funded lobby group Mychoice.ca, cautioned against implementing a blanket ban.
"In terms of the grand scheme of things and the obesity problem and all the other problems that are facing our children these days, I think we have to be careful before we take a heavy-handed legislative approach to dealing with something of that nature," she said.
"If we're going to be going down this route and handing police the power to pull people over who are smoking in cars, I think we'd have to get to a point in society where we say, is this product something that we should be still being permitted to be sold? . . . Why is it still a legal product?"
"It doesn't make sense to me."
All I have to say is: About friggin' time! I hope it gets passed and I hope other provinces jump on the bandwagon. There is nothing I hate more than seeing children in a car with the windows rolled up while their parents suck on a cancer stick.
I also have this to say about Nancy Daigneault's statement: Stop passing the buck by mentioning childhood obesity. That's just plain sad.
It's every adult's right to choose to kill themselves slowly, do so in your own home away from people who CHOOSE not to partake in the same thing you do. I am all for banning smoking in bars, restaurants and all public places and I am all for banning smoking in cars carrying children. Children sometimes do not have a voice, they cannot voice their concerns or opinions sometimes and it's our job to step in when parents are placing their children at terrible danger.
But I suppose, looking at this objectively, one could ask "what's next?". On the subject of childhood obesity, will it come to a point if this legislation goes through that parents will be arrested/fined or have their children taken away because they fed them french fries once in a while or their lunch choices don't meet government standards? I suppose one could ask: When will it stop? How far will this sort of thing go?
What do you think?
Making smoking in cars carrying children illegal - good or bad?