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Public attitudes to laws for smoke-free private vehicles: a brief review
  1. G Thomson,
  2. N Wilson
  1. University of Otago, Wellington, New Zealand
  1. G Thomson, University of Otago, Wellington, Box 7343, Wellington, New Zealand; george.thomson{at}


As smoke-free car policy is a frontier domain for tobacco control, attitudes to smoke-free private car laws are briefly reviewed. Medline and Google Scholar searches for the period up to mid-November 2008, from English language sources, were undertaken. Studies were included that contained data from national and subnational populations (eg, in states and provinces), but not for smaller administrative units, eg, cities or councils. Jurisdiction, sample size and survey questions were assessed. One reviewer conducted the data extraction and both authors conducted assessments.

A total of 15 relevant studies (from 1988) were identified, set in North America, the UK and Australasia. The available data indicates that, for the jurisdictions with data, there is majority public support for laws requiring cars that contain children to be smoke free. There appears to be an increase over time in this support. In five surveys in 2005 or since (in California, New Zealand and Australia), the support from smokers was 77% or more.

The high levels of public (and smoker) support for smoke-free car laws found in the studies to date suggest that this can be a relatively non-controversial tobacco control intervention. Survey series on attitudes to such laws are needed, and surveys in jurisdictions where the issue has not been investigated to date.

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  • Funding: GT is supported by a Health Research Council of New Zealand grant (the Smokefree Kids Project) and NW by a separate Health Research Council grant (ITC Project).

  • Competing interests: The authors have previously undertaken tobacco control work for various non-profit health sector organisations and for government and international health agencies.