Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ supports submissions to yesterday’s Health Select Committee around the Smoke-free Environments Amendment Bill to ban smoking in cars with children, says Chief Executive Letitia Harding.

Smoking is a major health problem in New Zealand, and is directly linked to almost 5,000 deaths a year. It also contributes to socio-economic and ethnic inequalities in health in New Zealand; smoking rates are considerably higher for Māori and Pasifika peoples, as are rates of respiratory illness like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

"We advocate extensively for people improving their own respiratory health," says Letitia, "but this time it’s not just about their health; it’s about that of their children. This is another string to our bow, helping to keep children safe.

"Second hand smoke has well known harmful health effects on young children, which can only be compounded in a small enclosed space like a car, and is also a serious trigger for asthma, COPD, and other respiratory illnesses. Smoking around children also normalises the act of smoking; this is backed up by extensive peer-reviewed research.

Earlier this year, the Ministry of Health and the Children's Commissioner supported the ban, saying that banning smoking in cars would mean ‘hundreds to thousands less admissions to hospital, about 10,000 less asthma episodes and many less visits to GPs required.’

"Stopping smoking is the best thing that a person can do for their health, and that of their children. Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ are committed to New Zealand being Smokefree, and legislation like this will send a message that the rest of the country is too.

"This isn’t a waste of time; it’s saying that time’s up. It’s not about money, or politics, or catching people out; it’s about keeping children safe."

The Foundation also confirmed it does not receive any funding from the tobacco industry.