News and Events

Local Partnership Advocates for Legislation to Prevent Secondhand Smoke In Cars with Children
February 1, 2017

Have you recently been exposed to second hand smoke in a closed space?

Tobacco control policies in Florida have all but ensured we can breathe clean air indoors when at work, play and traveling. What if you had to travel in a car with a driver who is smoking? That’s what thousands of children in Florida do every day.

Banning smoking in cars with children became priority one for Partnership members this year. Statistics are alarming. According to the 2016 Florida Youth Tobacco Survey, 53.9% of Indian River children are exposed to secondhand smoke or electronic vaping aerosols. Children in cars have no way to escape smoke or aerosol exhaled by the smoker or the smoke from a burning cigarette. Simply put, children traveling in vehicles with smokers do not have a choice.

The Surgeon General states there is no safe level of secondhand smoke. The solution is to eliminate smoke completely from the environment. Secondhand smoke exacerbates asthma, ear infections, and bronchitis. Nearly 50,000 people also die from the effects of secondhand smoke every year.

Other states, countries and territories have enacted legislation banning smoking in cars with children. The Tobacco Free Partnership of Indian River County is promoting the idea of enacting similar legislation in Florida. Partners met with newly elected Representative Erin Grall in late January to discuss their number one priority; prohibiting smoking and vaping in cars with children. Representative Grall was supportive and understood the implications of exposure for children. The meeting was productive for everyone attending.

Unfortunately, committee work had begun and many bills were filed already, so finding a Senate sponsor proved difficult and the bill was unable to be filed this year. Filing next year will provide the Partnership with time to advance the concept throughout the community and perhaps the state.

If you are in favor of legislation prohibiting smoking in cars with children, attend a meeting of the Tobacco Free Partnership of Indian River County.