GRAND RAPIDS (WWJ) – A new study in the journal Pediatrics focuses on parents smoking in cars with their children present.

Researchers say tobacco smoke exposure has already been associated with increased risk of death in children. Dr. Tom Peterson with Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids says the study shows that doctors aren’t doing enough to warn parents about smoking in the car.

“We’re pushing and pushing more and more to get physicians and providers to get more and more…to get moving along the process,” said Peterson. “It’s not just parents quitting, it’s not getting them outside the home, it’s making sure they don’t smoke in the cars.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that families adopt a smoke-free car policy.

“What we’re trying to do as pediatricians is extend the interventional arm or influence of the pediatric provider in decreasing kids exposed to second-hand smoke,” Peterson said.

Pediatricians at suggest the following tips to keep a smoke-free car:

  • Do not smoke, ever, in a car that transports children. Smoking in your car even once can fill the seats and other materials with toxins, even if the windows are open.
  • Remind passengers not to smoke in your car.
  • Try to time your smoking to coincide with times when you know you will be without children at another location — headed to work where there is a designated smoking area? Try to hold off on your morning cigarette until you get there. You will keep your child healthier, as well as your car!
  • Fill your car’s ashtray with spare change so you aren’t tempted to fill it with ash.
  • Leave a cell phone charger or other device plugged into the car’s adapter outlet so you are not tempted to use it as a lighter.
  • Keep a jacket and umbrella in the car to use in case you need to stop and smoke and the weather is bad.
  • Store your cigarettes in the trunk or in another out-of-reach area while you drive.
  • Consider putting up a sticker or decal on your car that reminds passengers that it is a nonsmoking vehicle.

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