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TUESDAY, July 23 (HealthDay News) -- Eighty-two percent of American adults support banning smoking in cars when children younger than 13 are in the vehicle, according to a new survey.
The poll also found that 87 percent of adults support a ban on smoking at businesses that allow children, and 75 percent support banning smoking in homes where there are children with asthma or other lung diseases.
Current smokers are among those who think that children should be protected from secondhand smoke: 60 percent of current smokers would support a ban on smoking in cars carrying children, compared with 84 percent of former smokers and 87 percent of people who never smoked, the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health found.
Despite these strong levels of support, only seven states have laws that ban smoking in cars when children are present, the researchers noted.
"Smoke is a real health hazard for kids whose lungs are still developing, and especially for kids who have illnesses like asthma where the lungs are particularly fragile and flare up when exposed to secondhand smoke," poll director Dr. Matthew Davis said in a university news release.
"Although the number of people smoking has dropped dramatically in the last 50 years, secondhand smoke remains a health risk," added Davis, an associate professor of pediatrics and internal medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School and associate professor of public policy at the university's School of Public Policy.
The seven states with bans on smoking in vehicles carrying children are Arkansas, California, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Oregon and Utah.
In addition, there are four states -- Hawaii, Indiana, New Jersey and New York -- with cities or counties that ban smoking in vehicles where children are present.
"Given the high level of public support for laws prohibiting smoking in vehicles with children in this poll, it may be that the bans enacted by a small number of states should be considered by many more states, and perhaps at the national level," Davis said.
"Forty of the 50 states currently ban smoking in public places in one form or another," Davis noted. "We are not aware of laws at this time that prohibit smoking in homes where children have asthma or other lung conditions. However, the level of public support for ways to reduce children's exposure to secondhand smoke is so high that now may be the time for public health officials and legislators to move forward on ideas like these to protect children's health," he added.
-- Robert Preidt
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