Letters: Secondhand smoke can hurt children — don't smoke in the car with them

Published: Sunday, March 17 2013 12:00 a.m. MDT

In the hope of swaying undecided parties, I would like to talk about the effects of secondhand smoke on kids.

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A review of online reader comments reveals mixed feelings about the Utah governor's support for a bill banning smoking in cars with child passengers ("Gov. Herbert supportive of bill banning smoking in cars with children," March 5). In the hope of swaying undecided parties, I would like to talk about the effects of secondhand smoke on kids.

Cigarette smoke exposure in children leads to greater risk of ear infections, asthma attacks, pneumonia and sudden infant death syndrome. Hauntingly, researchers at the University of Wisconsin found that parental smoking killed over 6,000 children a year; I fortunately have not yet seen a childhood death related to secondhand smoke, but I have cared for children with severe asthma attacks triggered by cigarette smoke who came perilously close to tragedy. In regards to cars in which people are smoking, studies have shown that pollutant levels in these cars greatly exceed the limits set by the EPA and that air quality, even when the windows are down, is similar to that of a typical smoky bar.

I know that I will not be able to convince everyone to support this legislation, but if writing this letter inspires at least one person to stop smoking when children are in the car then it was time well spent.

Arun Gurunathan, M.D.

Philadelphia, Pa.

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