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Study Reports Secondhand Smoking in Cars Still A Huge Problem for New Zealand’s Youth

Update Date: Sep 30, 2013 02:19 PM EDT

Smoking is one of the leading causes of deaths throughout the world. Several studies have found that not only does smoking increase the smoker's risk of developing health issues, it also increases the risk of these conditions in people who inhale the smoke. Due to the dangers of secondhand smoking, many campaigns and programs have worked hard to limit the exposure of smoke to young children. In a new study done in New Zealand, researchers found that even though secondhand smoking in cars is declining, a lot of children from less fortunate backgrounds are still being exposed.

"Smoking in cars is an important health issue because secondhand smoke is highly hazardous to children and is found in very high levels in cars," Professor Richard Edwards, the Co-Director of ASPIRE2025 said reported by Medical Xpress. "Moreover, in-vehicle second-hand smoke exposure is consistently and significantly associated with susceptibility to initiation and more frequent smoking."

The researchers looked at the data of over 25,000 students who were in Year 10 of school in New Zealand, which is equivalent to the second year of high school in the United States. The team from ASPIRE2025 got the data from annual surveys that were compiled from 2006 all the way through 2012.

The researchers found that overall, the number of children who are exposed to secondhand smoke in the car setting declined. However, 23 percent of children were still being exposed to cigarette smoke. Of this percentage, 56 percent reported being exposed at least three days a week. The researchers also found that the children who are high risk of exposure tended to be from poorer backgrounds. The socioeconomic and ethnicity inequalities suggest that the government needs to do a better job at focusing on groups that are at high risks of exposure.

"International evidence has shown such a move would successfully reduce children's exposure to a proven health hazard," Edwards added. "We need specific smokefree laws to prohibit smoking in cars, alongside other major structural changes that reduce tobacco supply and demand if we are to protect all children from smoking and achieve our smokefree nation goal by 2025."

The study was published in Tobacco Control.

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