Nicotine in cars adds support for ban against smoking and driving: study

Nicotine levels are “strikingly higher” in smokers’ cars than in non-smokers’ vehicles, and even exceed those found in public or private indoor spaces where tobacco use is allowed, a study has found.

Nicotine levels are “strikingly higher” in smokers’ cars than in non-smokers’ vehicles, and even exceed those found in public or private indoor spaces where tobacco use is allowed, a study has found.

Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health tested air nicotine concentrations in smokers’ vehicles and found they were twice as strong as levels measured by other studies in public and-or private places and up to 50 per cent higher than measurements taken in restaurants and bars that permit smoking.

“We’re interested in what the second-hand smoke exposure might do to a non-smoker travelling in a car with a smoker,” said senior author Dr. Patrick Breysse.

“And it seems like the car is probably the last environment where people have begun to think about the risk of second-hand smoke exposure.”

“The car represents a unique sub-environment because it’s a confined space and the opportunity for elevated exposures, even though they’re for a shorter period of time, the exposures are greater,” Breysse said from Baltimore, adding that children are particularly at risk.

“So it’s probably something we need to be worried about.”

The researchers studied the vehicles of 17 smokers and five non-smokers who commuted to and from work for 30 minutes or longer.

Two passive airborne nicotine samplers were placed in the vehicles — one on the front passenger seat headrest and one in the back seat behind the driver — for a 24-hour period. In all, they analyzed 44 samplers.

“And we found that for each cigarette smoked in the car, there was about a doubling in the airborne nicotine concentration,” said Breysse, noting that the study took into consideration the size of each vehicle and the use of ventilation.

“Most people drive with the windows up and the air conditioning on,” he said. “We found that rolling the windows half-way down reduced the exposure … but not as low as we expected.”

The researchers, whose work is published Tuesday in the British Medical Association journal Tobacco Control, tested nicotine because it is a good marker for the other chemicals found in second-hand smoke.

Other studies have measured air-borne particles of toxic and cancer-causing chemicals known to be emitted from smoking, but those levels can be skewed by other sources, including those pumped into the environment from surrounding traffic.

“Nicotine is very unique to second-hand smoke exposure,” he said. “So by measuring that, we’re sure we’re assessing what the contribution of the smoke is.”

Dr. Peter Selby, clinical director of the addictions program at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, said the research confirms what other studies have shown, that there is significant exposure to second-hand smoke in confined spaces — and a car’s no different.

“It’s a pivotal study in the sense that it helps raise the awareness of many health professionals as well as policy makers that we need to do something about this issue around smoke in cars,” said Selby, who was not involved in the research.

Many countries have introduced legislation banning smoking in public places, but most do not apply to tobacco use in cars. In Canada, Nova Scotia and Ontario are among the provinces that prohibit smoking in vehicles carrying children.

Because of their smaller lungs and faster breathing rate, children are especially at risk from the effects of second-hand smoke, he said.

“I think we need to do something clearly for the involuntarily exposed, for example children,” Selby said.

“But there’s only so much you can legislate. There’s also public education that’s required around this.”

Just Posted

RCMP swarm Collicutt Centre for weapons search

Collicutt Centre and Hunting Hills and Notre Dame high schools briefly locked down

Red Deer city council approves additional $700,000 for new Central Park water system

Cost overrun due to inflation, more needed road restoration

Alberta Health Services working on staffing for Red Deer hospital parkade

Accessibility of monthly parking passes a problem

Downtown location for addictions treatment centre is denied by Red Deer commission

Lack of parking, recreation, food service facilities were some of the concerns

Lacombe to bring back photo radar

Cameras will be set up at three key intersections to reduce collisions

Your community calendar

Wednesday Red Deer River Naturalists Flower Focus Group Meeting. When: Oct. 16… Continue reading

2 writers claim they deserve credit on Lizzo’s ‘Truth Hurts’

NEW YORK — There’s a debate about the truth behind Lizzo’s “Truth… Continue reading

Judge allows ‘Inside Out’ copyright lawsuit to continue in Ontario

TORONTO — A man who claims the Oscar-winning film “Inside Out” was… Continue reading

Red Deer Rebels’ Jayden Grubbe and Kyle Masters selected to represent Canada

Grubbe and Masters part of 66-player Canadian roster for World U17 Hockey Challenge in November

Opinion: Alberta gets it right when it comes to selling pot

This week marks the first anniversary of Canada’s recreational cannabis legalization. It’s… Continue reading

Don’t be so sure a Conservative vote will bring change

Re: “Dangerous talk from Singh,” David Marsden, Opinion, Oct. 15. It is… Continue reading

Michael Dawe: 50 years later, everyone still gushes over a modern school

Friday, Oct. 4, the new Westpark Middle School officially opened. This very… Continue reading

Davies, Cavallini score as Canada men end 34-year winless run against U.S.

TORONTO — After years of watching from the cheap seats as the… Continue reading

Most Read