Car smoking fines a punitive waste of time - health academic

Plans to fine parents for smoking in a car with children are punitive and a waste of time, a public health academic has told the Health Select Committee.

The Smoke-free Environments Amendment Bill would allow police to issue $50 fines for people smoking in cars with passengers under 18 years old.

Indigenous Sovereignty & Smoking Centre of Research Excellence director Marewa Glover said the focus should be on preventing people from smoking in the first place and helping people quit.

Dr Glover, who has researched harms from smoking for over 25 years, said 38 percent of Māori women smoked and this law would not help bring that figure down.

"It's punitive, it has negative consequences that will ... more likely economically impact Māori mums and lower socio-economic people.

"That unfortunately will drive further stress and helps to drive people to smoke so it will have a counterproductive effect."

She said the focus should be on preventing people from smoking in the first place and helping people quit.

She said the effects of second-hand smoke in cars on children was minor, many cars were smoke free already, and punishing parents would not be helpful.

Prudence Stone from the Public Health Association disagreed with Dr Glover but did accept that a punitive approach was unlikely to be effective.

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