Protect children in your car or home from second-hand smoke

Second-hand smoke refers to the smoke from the burning end of a cigarette and the smoke blown into the air by a person smoking.  Second-hand smoke contains more than 200 poisons, including 50 that are known to cause cancer.

Reducing children’s risk from second-hand smoke is a focus for Community and Public Health’s Smokefree staff.
This effort is part of the work towards a Smokefree Aotearoa by 2025.

A survey in South Canterbury showed that most people are in favour of Smokefree cars.  Over 90% of people in the survey said they would support a law that made smoking in a car carrying children illegal.

A West Coast survey showed that more than 90% of people had a Smokefree home, and more than 80% had a Smokefree car.

Second-hand cigarette smoke is more dangerous for children

Two young children sitting in the back seat of a car wearing masks to protect them from smoke.Second-hand cigarette smoke is more dangerous for children than adults because:

  • They breathe quicker and so breathe in more smoke;
  • Their lungs are smaller and more delicate so are more easily damaged;
  • Their immune systems are immature so they are more prone to becoming sick.

Children exposed to second-hand smoke are more likely to suffer from glue ear, chest and respiratory infections, asthma and reduced lung growth.

Find out more about how second-hand smoke can affect children.

Making your home and car smokefree

Winding the window down in the car or opening windows in the house will not remove all of the poisons. The poisons will linger long after the smoke and smell have disappeared.

Children are often not able to move away from second-hand smoke in a car or home.

Here are some easy steps to making your car and home smokefree:

  • Make a rule that your car and home are smokefree at all times for everyone.
  • Let other people know by placing smokefree stickers where everyone can see them.
  • Ask your family and whānau to support you by not smoking in your home or car.
  • Clean out your car ashtray and remove ashtrays from your home.
  • Remove lighters from your home, as well as the car cigarette lighter.
  • Be a positive role model and don’t smoke around children. This means they are less likely to grow up to be smokers themselves.
  • Think about quitting if you currently smoke.

Order smokefree stickers from the Community Health Information Centre.

Find out some reasons why you should quit smoking for your family, whānau and aiga (Quitline NZ).



Download or order smokefree resources from the Community Health Information Centre.


Contact your local CPH office for further information:

Ph: +64 3 364 1777
Fax: +64 3 379 6125

Ph: +64 3 687 2600
Fax: +64 3 688 6091

Ph: +64 3 768 1160
Fax: +64 3 768 1169

Page last updated: 15/10/2019

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