Rookverbod met kind in auto

“Children are effectively smoking a pack and a half a day for every hour they are exposed to smoke in a car.”

Met deze cryptische zin werd in Californië een voorstel voor een wet verdedigd die het roken in een auto met daarin jonge kinderen (<6 jaar) strafbaar moet stellen. De uitspraak werd gedaan door een senator die óók nog eens voorzitter van de Commissie Volksgezondheid is. En dat maakt een dergelijke uitspraak extra ernstig.

De uitspraak, waarschijnlijk bij de senator in de mond gelegd door een of andere bevriende anti-roker, raakt kant nog wal. Het is zelfs moeilijk om te interpreteren wat echt bedoeld wordt. Is het vergelijkbaar met een uitspraak als:

“Kinderen krijgen effectief per dag een glas water binnen voor elke regendruppel die ze per uur op hun tong krijgen?”

of had ze bedoeld dat kinderen effectief anderhalf pak per dag roken voor elk uur dat ze aan rook worden blootgesteld in een auto? Ook dat is natuurlijk onzin want hoeveel sigaretten worden er in zo’n uur sowieso gerookt. En hoe kan een kind anderhalf pakje naar binnen werken als er in zo’n uur bijvoorbeeld maar 2 sigaretten zijn gerookt?

Dr. Michael Siegel verbaast zich met de dag meer over de onzin die anti-rokers uitkramen. Zelfs Jan met de Pet begrijpt dat zo’n uitspraak niet klopt, zegt hij in een artikel op zijn blog.

It appears that the anti-smoking movement’s widespread use of inaccurate scientific claims to promote smoking bans has spread to policy makers. In her efforts to promote a ban on smoking in cars with children, California state Senator Deborah Ortiz claimed that a child in a car with a smoker for one hour is effectively smoking 1 1/2 packs of cigarettes.

According to an article on the San Jose Mercury News web site: “Sen. Deborah Ortiz, D-Sacramento, said the Koretz bill was an attempt to ‘protect the health of children who cannot protect themselves. We all know that secondhand smoke is hazardous,’ she said, ‘particularly for young children whose lungs are still developing. Children are effectively smoking a pack and a half a day for every hour they are exposed to smoke in a car.'”

The bill, which would prohibit smoking in any car with a child young enough to require a child safety seat (ages 6 and under or under 60 pounds), passed the Senate on a 23-14 vote and now moves to the state Assembly.

The Rest of the Story

While I oppose this legislation for reasons unrelated to the degree of risk posed by secondhand smoke, I think it is essential that public policy makers accurately present risk information to the public. While secondhand smoke exposure in a car may pose an increased risk for a child to develop upper respiratory infections, middle ear infections, and asthma, it is hardly the case that an hour of exposure is equivalent to that child actively smoking 1 1/2 packs of cigarettes.

There are a number of reasons why this claim is inaccurate, but to start with, the level of secondhand smoke in the car would have to be 8 times higher than the level in the smokiest bar for a one-hour exposure to yield the equivalent exposure as 1 1/2 packs of cigarettes to even the most heavily concentrated component of secondhand smoke compared to mainstream smoke: N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA).

While the NDMA exposure, under such conditions, would be equivalent to that from actively smoking 1 1/2 pack of cigarettes, the exposure to all the other chemicals in tobacco smoke would be far less. Thus, it would not be “effectively” the same as smoking 1 1/2 packs of cigarettes. To be accurate, one would have to clarify such a claim by stating that it refers specifically to one or two constituents of tobacco smoke.

More importantly, the exposure levels in cars vary widely and are highly dependent upon whether the windows are open or not. So even if the NDMA exposure levels are correct, in order to be accurate, one would have to clarify such a claim by stating that it refers specifically to driving with the windows closed. It is not sound scientifically to claim that anyone in a car for one hour under any conditions would have this exposure.

Is it just me, or does it not truly seem that nowadays, you can basically say anything you want about the hazards of secondhand smoke? You can claim that it will cause atherosclerosis in 30 minutes, that it will cause fatal arrhythmias, that just a brief exposure will set the cancer process in motion, that it contains asbestos, that it contains plutonium, and that one hour of exposure is equivalent to smoking 1 1/2 packs of cigarettes per day.

While Judge Kessler rejected the idea of having independent monitors to conduct surveillance on the activities of the tobacco companies to make sure that their actions were in line, I think that such a remedy may be required to ensure that anti-smoking groups do not deceive the public.

Back in the old days, we had to back up and support our scientific claims. It must be fun to be an anti-smoking practitioner today. You can basically say anything you want and you don’t have to justify it or back it up. I think I entered the anti-smoking movement 20 years too early.

California Senate Passes Car Smoking Ban; Inaccurate Scientific Claims Spread to Policy Makers

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  • "Es ist schwieriger, eine vorgefaßte Meinung zu zertrümmern als ein Atom."
    (Het is moeilijker een vooroordeel aan flarden te schieten dan een atoom.)
    Albert Einstein

  • "Als je alles zou laten dat slecht is voor je gezondheid, dan ging je kapot"
    Anonieme arts

  • "The effects of other people smoking in my presence is so small it doesn't worry me."
    Sir Richard Doll, 2001

  • "Een leugen wordt de waarheid als hij maar vaak genoeg wordt herhaald"
    Joseph Goebbels, Minister van Propaganda, Nazi Duitsland

  • "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win."
    Mahatma Gandhi

  • "There''s no such thing as perfect air. If there was, God wouldn''t have put bristles in our noses"
    Coun. Bill Clement

  • "Better a smoking freedom than a non-smoking tyranny"
    Antonio Martino, Italiaanse Minister van Defensie

  • "If smoking cigars is not permitted in heaven, I won't go."
    Mark Twain

  • I've alllllllways said that asking smokers "do you want to quit?" and reporting the results of that question, as is, is horribly misleading. It's a TWO part question. After asking if one wants to quit it must be followed up with "Why?" Ask why and the majority of the answers will be "because I'm supposed to" (victims of guilt and propaganda), not "because I want to."
    Audrey Silk, NYCCLASH