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Smoking in the car a rising problem, experts find

Tobacco smoke exposure in the car has become more common for kids whose parents smoke, a trial-based survey found.

“Childhood tobacco smoke exposure in confined spaces should be considered an intervention priority in the pediatric setting because children’s exposure to tobacco smoke is involuntary, and no one other than the child’s health care provider may have the opportunity to advocate for smoke-free cars,” Medpage reported the researchers having said.

The researchers interviewed 795 parents who smoked and owned a car, as part of the larger Clinical Effort Against Secondhand Smoke Exposure, a pediatric intervention trial.

Fewer than one in three parents — 29 percent — reportedly have a smoke-free policy in their car. Just 24 percent reported strictly enforcing the policy.

There is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke, the U.S. surgeon general says. “Babies and children who breathe secondhand smoke are more likely to be sick with bronchitis, pneumonia and ear infections. They are also more likely to cough and wheeze than children who aren’t exposed to tobacco smoke,” CBS News reported.

A reported 73 percent of the participants said they or someone else had smoked in the car in the prior three months. Of the 562 parents who did not have a smoke-free car policy, 48 percent smoked in the car in the presence of their children.

The study will be published in the upcoming December issue of the journal Pediatrics.

Parents shouldn’t ever smoke in a car that transports children, pediatricians at tell CBS. The cigarette smoke fills the seats and other materials with toxins, even if the windows are open. They offer tips to keeping a smoke-free car.

Time smoking breaks for when the children are gone, pediatricians suggest. Fill the car’s ashtray with spare change instead of ash. Leave a cellphone charger plugged into the car’s adapter outlet to avoid the temptation of using the lighter, they advise, and store the cigarettes in an out-of-reach area while driving.

Rachel Lowry is a reporter intern for the Deseret News. She has lived in London and is an English graduate from Brigham Young University. Contact her at or visit