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February 2010

Ban on smoking in cars with children

People have been banned from smoking in motor vehicles with children under 18.

Health Minister Daniel Andrews and Quit Victoria Executive Director Fiona Sharkie said the legal change—from January 1—would help protect children from exposure to second-hand cigarette smoke.

‘This new law means no-one is allowed to smoke in a motor vehicle if a person under 18 is present.

‘This ban includes whether the car is moving or not, whether the windows are open or closed and whether the roof is down or not.’

The maximum penalty for an individual breaking the new law is five penalty units ($584.10) with an infringement penalty (on the spot fine) of two penalty units ($233.64).

Mr Andrews said the law encouraged more parents to not smoke around children and quit.

‘Research shows there is no risk-free level of second-hand smoke in confined areas such as cars, in fact the air quality when a person smokes in a car is similar to that of a smoky pub.

‘Children exposed to second-hand smoke are at increased risk of premature death and disease, as well as reduced lung function, severe asthma, and increased risk of lower respiratory tract infections.’

Mr Andrews said recent research by the Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer at the Cancer Council Victoria highlighted the need for this latest smoking ban.

‘This research shows more than two-thirds of secondary school students said there was a ban on smoking in the family car when children were present.

‘However, almost 20 per cent of those surveyed said smoking was allowed with the window open or there were no rules or restrictions on smoking in the car when children were present.

‘The research also highlights smoking habits and attitudes of parents greatly influence the likelihood of students picking up the habit,’ he said.

           For more information visit www.health.vic.gov.au/tobaccoreforms.