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New campaign targets smoking in cars

Thursday 28 Feb 2013 7:37 a.m.

By Charlotte Shipman

A small community with a big smoking problem has launched a campaign to reduce the number of people who smoke with children in the car.

Research by the University of Otago shows that the odds of a smoky car ride are 11 times higher in Wainuiomata than in any other suburb of Wellington.

Associate Health Minister Tariana Turia says she's not surprised.

"I think it highlights, and really we've known this - that really it's in poorer communities where smoking is quite prevalent."

The median house price in Wainuiomata is $236,000 – in Karori you'd struggle to buy land for that. The median house price there is $520,000.

It's estimated 100,000 children are exposed to second-hand smoke in cars every week. The community of Wainuiomata in the Hutt Valley was upset about the statistics.

"When I was first told about it, I was pissed," says Ssi Tuala-le'afa.

So she helped create the campaign called 'Smoke-free Cars - That's How We Roll'. It aims to reduce the number of people smoking in cars with children.

But the smoke-free message is broader in this small, rugby-centred town. At the local rugby league club spectators aren't allowed to smoke on the sidelines, and there are moves to ban smoking in the car park as well.

Second-hand smoke increases health problems like asthma, cot death and glue ear. Problems which are also over-represented in poorer areas.

The research also suggested messages about the danger of smoking in cars isn't working for children in poorer areas.

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