Kicking the habit: should smoking be banned in cars? - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Kicking the habit: should smoking be banned in cars?


The American Cancer Society is encouraging you to quit tobacco during its 36th annual "Great American Smoke-out".  Tobacco remains the single largest preventable cause of disease and early death in the US, yet more than 45 million Americans still smoke.

Currently, one particular quit smoking effort halfway across the world is getting a lot of attention.  

While smoking has been banned here in Iowa in most public places since 2008--a study just released by the British Medical Association calls for a ban on smoking in cars.  Six US states and Puerto Rico already ban smoking when a child is in the vehicle with you.  But some feel that kind of restriction is taking it too far.

Shirley Roof has served as a volunteer advocate for the American Cancer Society for more than 30 years.  She helped lead the charge to get the Iowa smoke-free air act passed and hopes that ban will be extended to casinos.

"I look at it as a health issue.  It's about saving lives.  There is no safe level of second hand smoke," Roof said.

Beyond bans, Roof would like to see more people just quite smoking.  But as almost any smoker will tell you, it's not an easy habit to kick.

"You just don't put them down like that.  I've tried to go cold turkey myself a couple times and might make it 4, 5 days, you know, then back on them," said smoker Ellis Jackson.

Still, Jackson understands and respects public smoking bans.  But he and many other smokers we talked with don't think lawmakers should be able to restrict light-ups in your car.

"I wouldn't really smoke in public if you don't want me to smoke there.  But in my car, it's different because that's mine," said Jackson.

The British Medical Association thinks car smoking bans should be more widely enacted to prevent second and third hand smoke exposure for kids and others riding in the car or driving by the blowing smoke.  Anti-smoking advocates say there's a clear goal behind such laws.

"Laws are made to protect people," Roof said.

Smokers in Iowa just hope that the British push for an in-car smoking ban doesn't light any legislative fires to get a similar measure in place here.

Right now, anti-smoking advocates in Iowa say that a car smoking ban isn't a top legislative priority.  It would likely take a group of people interested in the idea to gain any kind of traction.

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