WDHB urges Whanganui residents to have their say on World Smokefree Day

27 May 2014
To mark this year’s 31 May World Smokefree Day, the Whanganui District Health Board (WDHB) is urging district residents to have their say on whether smoking in vehicles carrying children should be banned.
WDHB health promoter and network member Desiree Mclean says this year’s World Smokefree Day is all about creating environments where children are free from exposure to tobacco while also encouraging and supporting friends, families and whānau across New Zealand to quit.
Leading up to the day, the Te Hunga Tupeka Kore Network Group (smokefree action group comprised of local health provider representatives) is surveying people throughout the Whanganui region to find out their views on whether smoking in cars carrying children should be banned, or not.
“Parents, whānau and caregivers can make positive changes to the environment children are growing up in, even if they do smoke,” says Ms Mclean. “Talking to your children about smoking and establishing smokefree rules such as, not smoking around children and keeping the house smokefree is a fantastic start. Add in keeping our cars smokefree for our children and we are definitely moving in the right direction.”
Network group members have visited Gonville shopping centre to hear the opinions of the community. More than 200 survey responses in support of banning smoking in cars were collected. The group hope to survey more than 500 people by the end of the month.
The network will be conducting more surveys and have a display at Trafalgar Square on Wednesday 28 May from 10am until 2pm. 
“I’m really hoping our community will make the most of the opportunity to come down and view the demonstration, and take the time to talk to network group members about the survey and issues such as giving up smoking,” Ms Mclean says. “Quit coaches will be on site throughout the time we are at Trafalgar Square. It’s the perfect opportunity to start your smokefree journey. 
“A vehicle and smoke machine will also be set up as part of the display to show how smoke can travel through a vehicle”, says Ms Mclean. “The smoking simulation was run very successfully as part of a World Smokefree Day promotion through the Smokefree South Canterbury Committee in 2013.”   
Ms Mclean says winding down a window does not disperse enough smoke to protect children as the toxins hang around for a few days, not just moments. “We know parents, whether they are smokers or not, feel very strongly about not exposing children to smoking,” says Ms Mclean.  
“Aside from the effects of second-hand smoke, research shows that a child whose parents smoked, is three times more likely to smoke themselves. Children see their parents smoking and this has a strong effect on what they perceive as normal.”
Children who are exposed to, and breathe in, second-hand smoke are more likely to develop illnesses such as chest infections, glue ear and asthma.
World Smokefree Day is a perfect opportunity to work together to achieve the Smokefree Aotearoa 2025 goal, encouraging and supporting more people to quit to have a future in which our children and grandchildren will enjoy tobacco-free lives.