"While partially opening windows reduced exposure to secondhand smoke it did not eliminate exposure within motor vehicles," Breysse said. "It is important to remember that there is no known safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke."
People in the study also completed a questionnaire that included questions on their knowledge and attitudes about the health risks of secondhand smoke and relevant regulations and legislation. Both smokers and nonsmokers said smoking in a car posed a health risk to passengers. Among smokers, 53 percent said not being able to smoke in the car would help them to quit, and 93 percent said cars should be smoke-free voluntarily. Only 7 percent of smokers said there should be laws outlawing smoking in cars.
"Results of this research and other studies can be used to develop education campaigns aimed at eliminating secondhand smoke exposure in motor vehicles," Breysse said. "In addition, these results can be used to support legislative efforts aimed at banning smoking in vehicles, particularly when children are present."
Dr. Norman H. Edelman, chief medical officer of the American Lung Association, said "all those people who smoke in cars and think they are protecting the passengers by using AC [air conditioning] or opening the window are wrong and potentially impairing their passengers' health."
Matthew L. Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, called the new study "a rude wake-up call -- cars literally become toxic gas chambers."
Myers also believes that laws banning smoking in cars are needed. "It is appropriate and necessary to ban smoking in cars where children are passengers," he said. "Children are not volunteers in cars. This is a more intense, more dangerous ex
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