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The Risk of Smoking with Kids in Cars

Smoking with kids in car

It’s no secret that smoking with children in the car is considered a faux pas.  Recently in New Jersey, a state senate panel has moved forward with legislation that would ban smokers from smoking in vehicles with children 16 years old and younger are present. 

Violators of this bill would receive a $100 fine, but no points on their license or insurance records.  In addition, the ban on smoking in vehicles with children under 16 years old would be considered a secondary offense, and perpetrators could only be cited if they are pulled over for a moving violation.

Regardless of your thoughts on this bill in New Jersey, it is important to understand the risks and consequences of smoking with children in the car.  A 2012 study looked closely at smokers and found that many adult smokers do smoke with their children in the car, which raises the risk for a child to develop cancer and/or respiratory infections.  The U.S. Surgeon General declares that there is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke.  Children who breathe in secondhand smoke are more likely to get sick with pneumonia, ear infections, and bronchitis.  Those with asthma who are exposed to secondhand smoke could have a serious attack that may lead to death.  In addition, sudden infant death syndrome is more frequent in babies who are subject to secondhand smoke.

Smoking With Kids In Cars Statistics

  • More than 126 million nonsmoking Americans are exposed to secondhand smoke in homes, vehicles, workplaces, and public places.
  • Almost 60% of U.S. children aged 3–11 years—or almost 22 million children—are exposed to secondhand smoke.
    • Secondhand smoke exposure may cause buildup of fluid in the middle ear, resulting in 790,000 physician office visits per year, as well as more than 202,000 asthma episodes among children each year.
    • Secondhand smoke is especially harmful to young children. Secondhand smoke is responsible for between 150,000 and 300,000 lower respiratory tract infections in infants and children under 18 months of age, resulting in between 7,500 and 15,000 hospitalizations each year, and causes 430 sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) deaths in the U.S. annually.
    • In the United States, 21 million, or 35 percent of, children live in homes where residents or visitors smoke in the home on a regular basis.
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