This just in: cigarette smoking is bad for you. I guess you already knew that, so I won't get into the gazillion studies that confirm this. Nor will I get into the gazillion studies that show how detrimental secondhand smoke is to a child's health. But I would like to debunk the myth that is still prevalent regarding smoking in cars with children.


I know a number of parents who continue to smoke with their children in the car under the misguided premise that if they roll the windows down, their kids won't be exposed to secondhand smoke. This is a bunch of baloney.


In fact, a new study has confirmed that secondhand smoke in cars — even with the windows down and/or the air conditioning on — exceeds official "safe" limits, making the air in the car toxic to all who attempt to breathe it, including your kids.


For the study, researchers in Scotland strapped a device to the back seat of the car to analyze the air quality during a number of journeys that ranged in duration from about 10 minutes to an hour. In 49 of the 85 journeys in total, the driver smoked up to four cigarettes.


Researchers found that in the 49 trips when the driver smoked, levels of fine particulate matter averaged 85 micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m3), which is more than three times higher than the 25µg/m3 maximum safe indoor air limit recommended by the World Health Organization. The damage was still evident when the driver smoked only one cigarette. Even with the windows wide open, particulate matter levels still exceeded the limit at some point during the journey.


In February of this year, the CDC released a report noting that too many children are being exposed to secondhand smoke in cars. This new evidence confirms that this exposure could lead to real health damage for these kids.


If you still choose to smoke, fine — but don't smoke in the car with your kids. Care about their health even if you're not so worried about your own. It's too important not to.



Related story on MNN: Foods that can help you quit smoking


Smoking in the car exceeds toxic limits
New study finds smoking in the car — even with the windows open — creates pollution that exceeds official "safe" limits.