Ban on smoking in cars pointless, says cancer society

A majority think it is time to legislate against smoking in cars, but one important group is not onboard

The Danish cancer society, Kræftens Bekæmpelse, does not agree with the idea of a legislative ban on smoking in a car when children are inside.

The US, Canada, Australia and France already have legislation prohibiting smoking in cars with children, and the practice will become illegal in Britain starting in October. 

However, there is little support for the idea among Danish politicians, even though seven out of ten Danes said they thought the practice should be banned in a recent poll.

Cancer society not along for the ride
Inge Haunstrup-Clemmensen from Kræftens Bekæmpelse said that education about the dangers of smoking in cars, whether or not children are along for the ride, is more important than a ban.

“When you smoke in a car, which is a very small space, the substances in the smoke such as nicotine simply remain inside the car,” Haunstrup-Clemmensen told DR Nyheder. “Even if you air out, the contaminants remain forever.”

Haunstrup-Clemmensen said the contamination swirls up every time anyone sits down in the car.

“A substance like nicotine can be converted into carcinogens and be absorbed through the skin,” she said. “This means that a small child put in a child seat contaminated with old tobacco smoke absorbs those substances.”

READ MORE: Smokers ignoring station smoking ban

Knowledge, not laws
According to Haunstrup-Clemmensen rather than a ban, it is more important to get information and knowledge out about the dangers of tobacco smoke.

“People need to understand that it is no good just to air out the car,” she said. “This allows the individual to take responsibility for himself and for his family.”