Friday, March 14, 2008

Ban smoking in cars

According to a CBC News article, the government of Ontario will introduce legislation that will ban smoking in any car with a child passenger. According to the article: "The Ontario government plans to introduce legislation this spring to ban smoking in cars where young children are present.”

The new legislation, announced by Premier Dalton McGuinty on Wednesday, will be brought in for the spring session of the legislature scheduled to begin March 17.

"'We know that this is harmful to children,” McGuinty said. “We need to do everything we can to keep our children safe and healthy." McGuinty is reported to have said that “being exposed to one hour of secondhand smoke in a car is the same for a young child as smoking an entire pack of cigarettes."

Unfortunately, it appears that Premier McGuinty is using a misleading claim to support his legislation.

Dr. Michael Siegel, himself an anti-smoking activist and a staunch supporter of efforts to reduce the risks posed by second hand smoke to children, says “This is not accurate. The exposure to toxic substances resulting from one hour of secondhand smoke exposure in a car is not equivalent to that of actively smoking a pack of cigarettes. It may be true for one or two of the constituents of tobacco smoke, but it is certainly not true for all of them. If you had a choice between your kid being exposed to secondhand smoke for an hour or actively smoking a pack of cigarettes, you should definitely choose the secondhand smoke.

Dr. Siegel is well acquainted with the risks inherent in exposing children to secondhand smoke. He is not saying there is no danger, simply that the statement made by the Premier is inaccurate. Dr. Siegel is opposed to the use of these kinds of inaccurate statements to promote public health policies, even those with which he agrees.

Dr. Siegel notes that, “I think it serves to discredit the tobacco control and public health movements, and to undermine our scientific reputations. If people find out that we are exaggerating and distorting the truth, we will lose their trust. But their trust is essential if we are to remain effective as public health advocates.”

Dalton McGinty should leave the wild exaggerations and falsehoods to the anti-smoker fanatics and prohibitionists. Of course, if the gaffe was intentional and the Premier is sharing a bed with the extremists, then . . . Wait a minute, who did I vote for in the last two elections?

Oh, shit. Wasn’t that pleasant young woman knocking at my door one of McGinty’s bunch?

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