Smoking in Cars with Kids

Cigarette smoke exposure and children

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) It is known that secondhand smoke can be harmful to those exposed, especially in confined spaces like cars. 

A new study explored the rates of parent smokers who smoke in the car with children present.

Results showed that the majority of parent smokers surveyed did not enforce a strict no-smoke policy in regards to their vehicle.

"Talk to a therapist for help kicking the habit."

Led by Emara Nabi-Burza, MBBS, MS, from the Massachusetts General Hospital for Children, the research team used data gathered from families visiting pediatric health clinics across eight states.

In this study, smoke-free policies were considered "strictly enforced" if no one had smoked in the confined area during the past three months. 

Of the 795 smoking parents with a car that were surveyed, only 29 percent were found to have a smoke-free car policy, and 24 percent categorized their smoke-free car policy as strictly enforced.

By contrast, 57 percent of these parents reported having a strictly enforced smoke-free home policy.

Among the 562 parents not enforcing a smoke-free car policy, 48 percent said that smoking did occur in the car when children were present.

This did not seem to be an issue strongly advocated for by healthcare professionals, as only 12 percent of smoking parents reported being advised to not smoke in the car by a pediatric healthcare provider.

According to the authors, this combination of high rates of confined tobacco smoke exposure and little advice against smoking in cars with children from healthcare professionals “highlights the need for improved pediatric interventions, public health campaigns and policies regarding smoke-free car laws to protect children from tobacco smoke.”

Of the parents surveyed, 77 percent were women, and 68 percent were non-Hispanic whites. The highest level of education completed for 42 percent of parents was a high school diploma.

After analyzing demographic data, the authors found that parents with a younger child and parents who smoked less than 10 cigarettes a day were more likely to employ a strictly enforced smoke-free car policy.

The study was published online in the journal Pediatrics on November 12, 2012. The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), along with grants from a variety of different organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, which publishes Pediatrics.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
November 13, 2012
Last Updated:
November 15, 2012