Provincial bans against smoking in cars transporting children have worked to reduce exposure to secondhand smoke, according to a new report.

The Cancer Advocacy Coalition of Canada released its annual report on Thursday.


Secondhand smoke exposure inside private vehicles decreased without causing smokers to light more cigarettes at home, a researcher says. (Pawel Dwulit/Canadian Press)

The non-profit advocacy group champions policies for consistent cancer care, treatment and prevention.

Since April 2008, all provinces except Quebec started to adopt the ban against smoking in private vehicles carrying children.

"My analysis showed that the bans adopted across the provinces in Canada were actually successful in reducing secondhand smoke exposure," concluded Hai Nguyen, a postdoctoral researcher in the pharmacy department at the University of Toronto.

"Importantly, the ban led to lower secondhand smoke exposure inside private vehicles without causing smokers to light more cigarettes at home."

The bans on smoking in cars have reduced children’s exposure to secondhand smoke by 33 per cent, he found.

Some critics of the ban said smokers would switch from smoking in private vehicles to their homes, which would harm members of the household including children. That wasn't the case.

Nguyen said data from the Canadian Tobacco Use Monitoring Survey suggested the proportion of homes with smoking restrictions has increased from 72 per cent in 2000 to 91 per cent in 2010.

The empirical evidence should alleviate concerns about introducing bans, Nguyen said.

The group's report also includes chapters on:

  • Increasing insurance coverage for smoking cessation products, particularly in Atlantic Canada.
  • Regulatory approval and funding  of a new treatment for non-small cell lung cancer.
  • A cancer drug access website.

The group is funded by donations from pharmaceutical companies.

With files from The Canadian Press