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1 Protecting children or preserving smoker ‘privacy’? Policymaker attitudes to smokefree car laws June 2009 George Thomson, George Thomson, Sheena Hudson.

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Presentation on theme: "1 Protecting children or preserving smoker ‘privacy’? Policymaker attitudes to smokefree car laws June 2009 George Thomson, George Thomson, Sheena Hudson."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 Protecting children or preserving smoker ‘privacy’? Policymaker attitudes to smokefree car laws June 2009 George Thomson, George Thomson, Sheena Hudson Department of Public Health, Department of Public Health, University of Otago, Wellington University of Otago, Wellington

2 2 Acknowledgments Kiri Parata, Linda Tasi-Mulitalo, Tolotea Lanumata (interviewing and ideas) Kiri Parata, Linda Tasi-Mulitalo, Tolotea Lanumata (interviewing and ideas) Richard Edwards, Nick Wilson (ideas) Richard Edwards, Nick Wilson (ideas) Health Research Council for funding Health Research Council for funding

3 3 Introduction Dangers of smoking in cars – similar/higher fine particulate levels compared to in smoky bars Dangers of smoking in cars – similar/higher fine particulate levels compared to in smoky bars At least 11 US/Oz/Canada state/provinces that ban smoking in private vehicles containing kids At least 11 US/Oz/Canada state/provinces that ban smoking in private vehicles containing kids  Social marketing campaigns for smokefree cars: Canada, NZ, smokefree cars: Canada, NZ, NSW, Western Australia NSW, Western Australia

4 4 Need for and support for intervention Exposure to SHS in cars 27% of NZ Year 10 students exposed in the last seven days (43% Māori, 39% Pacific, 37% in low decile schools (McDuff 2006) 27% of NZ Year 10 students exposed in the last seven days (43% Māori, 39% Pacific, 37% in low decile schools (McDuff 2006) NZ support for banning smoking in cars with children under 14  Unpublished HSC survey 2008 – 91% (82% smokers)

5 5Aim To investigate the views of NZ policymakers, on smoking around children To investigate the views of NZ policymakers, on smoking around children Method Method Qualitative case study – 59 interviews in , plus documents Qualitative case study – 59 interviews in , plus documents ‘Policymaker’ – defined as MPs, DHB board members, senior government and NGO officials ‘Policymaker’ – defined as MPs, DHB board members, senior government and NGO officials 16 Maori, 18 Pacific interviewees 16 Maori, 18 Pacific interviewees

6 6 Results For both politicians and officials, and across ideologies and ethnicities: For both politicians and officials, and across ideologies and ethnicities: Strong themes of: Strong themes of:  the vulnerability of children (& no choice)  the need for child protection from SHS Very mixed reactions to smokefree car laws Very mixed reactions to smokefree car laws

7 7 Vulnerability ‘Children... often don’t even have enough information, or have not been encouraged to think that they might have a choice, and can’t influence the behaviour of people around them.’ ‘Children... often don’t even have enough information, or have not been encouraged to think that they might have a choice, and can’t influence the behaviour of people around them.’ ‘Children don’t have the choice. … if adults decide to smoke, that’s the ultimatum. … children will just have to inhale’ ‘Children don’t have the choice. … if adults decide to smoke, that’s the ultimatum. … children will just have to inhale’

8 8 Child rights ‘Clearly adults have a right to smoke. But I don’t think they have a right to impact on the health of [others].’ ‘Clearly adults have a right to smoke. But I don’t think they have a right to impact on the health of [others].’ ‘Children’s rights actually come before adults rights.’ ‘Children’s rights actually come before adults rights.’ ‘[Smokers] shouldn’t have the right to kill kids who don’t have a say.’ ‘[Smokers] shouldn’t have the right to kill kids who don’t have a say.’

9 9 Current government view ‘ Banning smoking in cars …. that’s not gonna be happening, because it will take years, it will distract the parliament and in the end you know we're a party of reasonable choice. ‘ Banning smoking in cars …. that’s not gonna be happening, because it will take years, it will distract the parliament and in the end you know we're a party of reasonable choice. I'm not opposed to banning smoking in bars, because other New Zealanders are there and people work there. I'm not opposed to banning smoking in bars, because other New Zealanders are there and people work there. But if you want to smoke in your own car, don’t be looking for a National government to pass a law to tell you can’t do it in the next three years.’ John Key, December 2008 But if you want to smoke in your own car, don’t be looking for a National government to pass a law to tell you can’t do it in the next three years.’ John Key, December 2008

10 10 Reasons given for not supporting regulating smoking in cars  Lack of public acceptance for interventions  Need for police time  Perception of cars as ‘private’  Need for ‘choice’  Perceived political difficulties

11 11 Perceived political difficulties  Expected reaction of ‘too nanny state’,  Fear of a ‘section 59’ type ‘backlash’ ‘As we’ve seen with the section fifty- nine legislation, one step too far into family homes creates really outrageous ‘As we’ve seen with the section fifty- nine legislation, one step too far into family homes creates really outrageous backlash.’ backlash.’

12 12 Assumptions Assumption by some interviewees that cars were an area for personal (smoker) choice. Eg: Assumption by some interviewees that cars were an area for personal (smoker) choice. Eg: ‘That gets into that area of legislating for people’s personal lives.’ ‘That gets into that area of legislating for people’s personal lives.’ ‘Their car is their own property, their house is their own property. If they want to smoke in those things it’s up to the individual.’ ‘Their car is their own property, their house is their own property. If they want to smoke in those things it’s up to the individual.’

13 13 Perceived difficulties ‘Legislation isn’t always the right tool to do the job, and when you have legislation, its how do you actually enforce it?’ ‘Legislation isn’t always the right tool to do the job, and when you have legislation, its how do you actually enforce it?’ ‘I’m happy for police time to be used on policing seatbelts. I’m less happy for police time to be used on policing smoking.’ ‘I’m happy for police time to be used on policing seatbelts. I’m less happy for police time to be used on policing smoking.’

14 14 Smokefree car law supporters ‘Definitely cars…I think it is the absolute number one priority at this point. … if you take a risk approach, cars feature highly because they’re a contained environment.’ ‘Definitely cars…I think it is the absolute number one priority at this point. … if you take a risk approach, cars feature highly because they’re a contained environment.’ ‘I would probably support legislation. It isn’t always the best tool, but…’ ‘I would probably support legislation. It isn’t always the best tool, but…’

15 15 Arguments generally missing  Smokefree car laws elsewhere demonstrated to be feasible, practical  Smoker and public support for law  International treaty obligation (Convention on Rights of the Child)  Social marketing may not protect the most- in-need

16 16 MP Hone Harawira: on smokefree car laws ‘I can hear all those smokers shouting out already: “How can they? This is my car; I can smoke in it if I want to!” ‘I can hear all those smokers shouting out already: “How can they? This is my car; I can smoke in it if I want to!” Well, remember when the bikies kicked up a fuss about wearing helmets? Now they all wear them and nobody blinks an eye. Well, remember when the bikies kicked up a fuss about wearing helmets? Now they all wear them and nobody blinks an eye. Remember what a fuss there was about us having to wear seatbelts? Now the first thing we do when we get into a car is put one on. Remember what a fuss there was about us having to wear seatbelts? Now the first thing we do when we get into a car is put one on. And remember how we thought that kids' car seats were dumb? Now every parent’s car has one. And remember how we thought that kids' car seats were dumb? Now every parent’s car has one. Sometimes we have to put personal choice aside for the greater good.’ (Harawira 2006) Sometimes we have to put personal choice aside for the greater good.’ (Harawira 2006)

17 17 Advocacy and policy implications Concern re children can potentially drive policy – if intervention is framed as child protection Concern re children can potentially drive policy – if intervention is framed as child protection Counter-framing of ‘privacy’ needed – eg: ‘privacy’ cannot be used to defend ‘the right to kill kids who don’t have a say.’ Counter-framing of ‘privacy’ needed – eg: ‘privacy’ cannot be used to defend ‘the right to kill kids who don’t have a say.’ Insufficient exposure of policy community to public support, and to overseas smokefree car laws Insufficient exposure of policy community to public support, and to overseas smokefree car laws

18 18 Conclusion Smokefree car law for children barely on policy agenda Smokefree car law for children barely on policy agenda Challenge: Laws to protect adults in cars Challenge: Laws to protect adults in cars

19 19 Further information Thomson G, Wilson N. Public attitudes to laws for smokefree private vehicles: A brief review. Tob Control. 2008:Online publication, December Thomson G, Wilson N. Public attitudes to laws for smokefree private vehicles: A brief review. Tob Control. 2008:Online publication, December


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