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The Lancet - Staying focused on protecting young people from the harms of tobacco smoke

17 November 2021

Tobacco exposure children

An interesting paper has just been published in the Lancet regarding the harms posed to young people by exposure to tobacco smoke. It refers to the need to expand policies to include homes and private vehicles containing children and adolescents.

Here in Ireland the regulation under the Protection of Children’s Health (Tobacco Smoke in Mechanically Propelled Vehicles) Act 2014, took effect from January 1st 2016. This means that it is now an offence for anyone to smoke a tobacco product in a vehicle where a child is present, or to allow someone else to smoke in the vehicle. The offence will be enforced by the Gardaí and carries a fixed penalty of €100 with the option of tougher penalties of up to €1,000 for failing to stop or providing inaccurate details.

The Irish Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) Study 2014 found exposure to second hand smoke was common at home and in the family car, nearly one in every five children between the ages of 10 and 17 years were exposed to smoke in cars. Its important to be aware, that even if the windows of the car are open, young people are not protected from the harmful effect of secondhand smoke. As part of the Tobacco Free Ireland policy we must continue de-normalise smoking for young people and also avoid exposing them to the harmful effects of secondhand smoke in enclosed spaces, such as cars.