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After just half a cigarette has been smoked in a car, the quality of the air can reach levels 10 times over what the United States Environmental Protection Agency considers hazardous.

Smoking in Cars Is Toxic

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The level of air pollution in a car caused by smoke from a cigarette is so severe that breathing it is dangerous for anyone, but especially for children. There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke - it has more than 7,000 chemicals, at least 70 of which are known to cause cancer.1

In general, children breathe in more air than adults because their lungs are still developing. They also have little or no control over their environments and cannot leave if secondhand smoke is bothering them.2 As a result, children exposed to secondhand smoke run a greater risk of damaging health effects.

  • Children who breathe secondhand smoke on a regular basis are at a higher risk for middle-ear infections. 3 4
  • Exposure to secondhand smoke can not only bring on asthma attacks, but can also cause asthma in children. 3 4
  • Babies and children younger than age 6 who are exposed to secondhand smoke regularly are more likely to get respiratory tract infections, such as pneumonia and bronchitis. 3 4

On January 1, 2008, a law went into effect in California that makes it illegal to smoke in cars when children 17 years old or younger are present. The law was created to protect our most vulnerable from the dangerous effects of secondhand smoke.

References
  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. How Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease: The Biology and Behavioral Basis for Smoking-Attributable Disease, A Report of the Surgeon General.. 2010.
  • Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment California Environmental Protection Agency. Secondhand Smoke and Children's Health.
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Fact Sheet: "Respiratory Health Effects of Passive Smoking," 1993.
  • State of California Air Resources Board. Proposed Identification of Environmental Tobacco Smoke as a Toxic Air Contaminant. Executive Summary, 2005.
 
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