SIMCOE, ON, JAN. 23, 2009 – The Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit and OPP are working together to promote the new ban on smoking in vehicles that carry children.
“The new law went into effect on Jan. 21,” explained the Health Unit’s Julia Hartley, Tobacco Use Prevention Health Promoter. “It is now illegal to smoke tobacco products in a vehicle if a child under the age of 16 is a passenger.”
Both the Haldimand and Norfolk OPP detachments are committed to enforcing the law, but everyone hopes education will be enough to cause people to police themselves.
“Youth are our future, so we need to do what it takes to protect their health,” said Insp. Zvonko Horvat, Norfolk Detachment commander. “Our officers will enforce the new legislation.”
Haldimand Detachment commander, Insp. Dave McLean, says there appears to be good public support for the new law.
“I haven’t seen anybody who is against this legislation,” McLean said. “This legislation is there to protect our young ones. Hopefully, there won’t be a need to charge anyone.”
Under the Smoke-Free Ontario Amendment Act 2008, a person caught smoking in a vehicle carrying children under16 can be fined up to $250.
“Second-hand smoke in motor vehicles can be up to 27 times greater than in a home where smoking is permitted,” Hartley explained. “Children are especially vulnerable to second-hand smoke because they breathe more air relative to body weight. As a result, they absorb more tobacco smoke toxins than adults.”
Children who breathe second-hand smoke are more likely to suffer health problems such as sudden infant death syndrome, asthma, cancer and cardiac disease later in life. Knowledge tests have also linked second-hand smoke to mental damage in children.
“We know parents want to keep their children safe,” Hartley said. “Those who continue to smoke around their children may be unaware of the risks or are unable to quit because of a heavy nicotine addiction.”
The Health Unit is also participating in the Ontario Lung Association’s “Campaign for a Smoke-free Ride” designed to give parents who smoke the information and support they need to give their children a healthy, smoke-free ride.
The campaign includes newspaper and radio ads, as well as posters and brochures. For more information or to order posters and brochures, contact the Health Unit at 519-426-6170 Ext. 3248 or 905-318-6623 Ext 3248.
Julia Hartley, Tobacco Use Prevention Health Promoter
Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit
519-426-6170 Ext. 3248 or 905-318-6623 Ext. 3248