Council supports butting out behind the wheel

Whitehorse city councillors support a ban on smoking in cars carrying child passengers. They unanimously supported a Canadian Cancer Society push to…

Whitehorse city councillors support a ban on smoking in cars carrying child passengers.

They unanimously supported a Canadian Cancer Society push to create such a law and will draft a letter saying that, and send it to Health Minister Brad Cathers.

“I’m going to support this,” said councillor Dave Stockdale.

“I think it’s the role of government to protect those who can’t protect themselves.

“This is a step in the right direction.”

Councillor Doug Graham reversed his position from last week.

On Monday, he said he was also in favour of pushing the government to include provisions prohibiting people from smoking while driving with people 18-years-old or younger in their cars in the proposed Smoke-Free Places Act.

 “I’m changing my opinion form last week and I will support this,” Graham said.

“In this particular case I’m willing to suspend my conservative ideals with respect to private property.

“As councillor Stockdale said, it’s for the good of the children.”

Last week, Graham said he wouldn’t support such a law because he objected to legislating private property.

He changed his mind after learning just how bad smoking in cars was for anyone riding with a smoker, he said.

Secondhand smoke in vehicles can be 23 times more toxic than such smoke in a house because air circulation is restricted in the more-confined space, according to the Ontario Medical Association.

Tobacco smoke contains more than 4,000 substances, of which 40 are known to be cancer causing agents, according to Physicians for a Smoke-free Canada, a coalition of Canadian doctors working to reduce smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke.

Carcinogens in tobacco smoke include arsenic, nickel, lead, formaldehyde, hydrazine and ethylcarbamate, according to the organization.

If Cathers does not include vehicles in the proposed anti-smoking legislation, Darius Elias will push for an amendment when the legislative assembly next sits, the Liberal MLA said.

We know smoking kills, so if people won’t voluntarily protect children, the government should step in, said Elias.

“Could you imagine being strapped to a car and being forced to breath in pathogens?” asked Elias in a recent interview.

“If their concern for a child won’t allow them to do that then maybe a $200 fine will.

“The children have no choice but to breathe it in.”

He doesn’t agree with arguments that such laws would infringe on people’s civil liberties because the government has already brought in similar laws, including drinking and driving legislation and car seat and seatbelt requirements.

“Driving is a privilege.”

While he can’t take a position on the proposed legislation, he feels any initiative that separates people from tobacco smoke is a good idea, said Bryce Larke, Yukon’s medical officer of health.

“Any protection we can provide them is worth doing,” he said.