Kate Hawkesby: Will police really enforce a ban on smoking in cars with kids?

Author
Kate Hawkesby ,
Section
Opinion,
Publish Date
Monday, 11 February 2019, 6:37a.m.
Children's Commissioner Andrew Becroft says the car smoking ban could benefit 100,000 Kiwi kids every week. Photo / Getty Images

COMMENT:

In the latest move of ideology over substance, the Government's going to ban smoking or vaping in cars around children.

This ban will be in place by the end of the year.

Don't get me wrong, I think anyone smoking or vaping in a car with children is inconsiderate, selfish and deserving of a fine - but here's the problem.

Who will enforce it? And how often? Will it be like driving with phones?
How prevalent is that despite a ban?

Just last year police were accused of ignoring phone use in cars in favour of a greater issue: speeding.

And then we get to the type of person who chooses to smoke or vape around kids in a car - the type of person who makes a decision like that is not likely to give a rat's arse what a new ban says: they'll do it anyway. As they always have without a second thought for the harm that second-hand smoke is doing to their kids' tiny lungs and immune systems.

Children's Commissioner Andrew Becroft says the car ban could benefit 100,000 Kiwi kids every week. I hope he's right.

Because here's the other thing about this law - it's at police's discretion. Like pretty much everything these days: dope, phones and now smoking with kids in the car.

Police can issue a warning if they actually see it happening and stop a car, they can refer people to support services... you can see where that's going.
Or they can issue a $50 fine.

So you roll a dice. Depends which cop you're passing. Are they more likely to stop a car with 16-year-olds in it, or babies?

And if they stop your car, is whether you're vaping really their priority? Or does it become more important whether the kid's strapped into a carseat, the rego's up to date or you're using a cellphone?

I'm all for steps in the right direction to correct and educate inappropriate behaviour, especially around children, but how can we really quantify their impact when it's at police discretion?

Surveys show about 90 per cent of people supported the banning of smoking in cars – well of course they did, who wouldn't?

But it's how you police it, how you monitor it, how many lives are truly changed by it that counts.

Let's hope the Children's Commissioner's optimism of 100,000 Kiwi kids a week benefiting from this proves right.

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