Secondhand smoke in cars worse than in bars

By Michelle Anderson • Published: November 19th, 2009
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

The next line of attack for those against cigarette smoking may be to fight it in one of the last places many feel safe lighting up: Their own cars.

A new study shows that people riding in cars where the driver is smoking are exposed to nicotine levels much higher than those found in restaurants and bars where smoking is allowed.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health say the study supports the need for more education about the health dangers related to smoking.

In the study, the researchers monitored the air in cars belonging to smokers and non-smokers. Each driver had at least a thirty-minute commute.

They placed two air nicotine samplers inside each car… one behind the passenger headrest, the other in the back seat.

After twenty-four hours, the samples were tested.

They found nicotine concentrations in smokers’ cars jumped much higher with each cigarette smoked and that opening car windows or using the air-conditioner helped, but did not keep secondhand smoke from areas where passengers could breathe it.

There is some support for outlawing smoking in cars when children are present.

At least three states restrict or ban it.

During the study, the smokers were asked about how a smoking ban would affect them.

Fifty-three percent said not being able to smoke in the car would help them kick the habit.

But that doesn’t mean they welcome a ban.

While ninety-three percent said cars should be smoke-free on a voluntary basis, just seven percent favored government regulations prohibiting smoking in cars.