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Smokers' group welcomes study showing low level of smoking in cars

Forest Éireann, a representative group for Irish smokers, says a ban on smoking in cars would have little positive effect.

Only 1.39 per cent of over 2,000 drivers observed by a UCD study were smoking while they drove. (File photo.)
Only 1.39 per cent of over 2,000 drivers observed by a UCD study were smoking while they drove. (File photo.)
Image: PonomarenkoNataly via Shutterstock

A LOBBY GROUP representing the rights of Irish smokers has said a ban on smoking in cars carrying children would have little positive effect.

Forest Éireann’s claim follows a UCD study which found that the proportion of drivers who smoke in their cars is far lower than the proportion of the adult population who smoke.

UCD’s study, published in this month’s Irish Medical Journal and reported in today’s Irish Independent, says that an observation of 2,230 drivers found that just 31 drivers – 1.39 per cent – were smoking while driving.

The study – which observed drivers passing two locations in Dublin – found that only eight adult passengers and one child were being exposed to secondhand smoke from an adult driver.

The research was prompted by proposals from Professor John Crown to ban people from smoking in cars carrying passengers under the age of 18.

Legislation giving effect to the ban was passed in the Seanad last May, but has not yet been cleared through committee stage so it can be sent to the Dáil.

Forest Éireann spokesman John Mallon said the study had vindicated his group’s stance that a ban on smoking in cars with children would prove difficult to enforce and unnecessary to introduce.

“Very few parents light up in a car carrying children. It’s inconsiderate at best and most adults recognise that,” Mallon said.

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“We would encourage parents not to smoke in cars when children are present but so few people do it that legislation is clearly unnecessary.

“It would be a huge waste of taxpayers’ money and would be almost impossible enforce. Education has to be better than coercion.”

Study: Smoking in cars exceeds safe air quality values, affects children

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Gavan Reilly

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