Weekly Feature

2018-01-11 / Front Page

Burke calls for ban on smoking in cars carrying children

Erie County Legislator Patrick Burke, D-Cheektowaga, announced proposed legislation on Tuesday that he said would protect county children by banning smoking in the car when they are present.

At a morning press conference in the Scott Bieler Clinical Sciences Center, part of Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, Burke said the proposal represented a positive step toward combating secondhand smoke.

“Children have no way of knowing the dangers of cigarette smoke and cannot be expected to protect their own health. We already do not allow smoking in indoor public spaces because we know the dangers of secondhand smoke. Why would exposing a child to conditions that can do irreparable damage to their health be any different,” he said. “As a father of three children, the idea of people forcing my kids to inhale secondhand smoke and inhale carcinogens without any choice is wrong.”

According to Burke, other New York locations, such as the City of Schenectady and Rockland County, have already implemented a smoking ban with children in the car, as have a number of states, including Arkansas, Louisiana and California. There is no reason not to do the same in Erie County, he said.

Mark Travers, a research scientist in the Division of Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences at Roswell Park, echoed Burke’s concerns that currently, children are being exposed to secondhand smoke without a way to consent.

“If someone smokes just one cigarette in a vehicle, extreme levels of toxins are released into a small space,” he said. “If children are in the car, that means they’re exposed to harmful compounds that put them at a higher risk for cancer, lung or heart disease — without any say in the matter.”

Burke contended the ban would eliminate an unnecessary cause of secondhand smoke inhalation and said he was glad to have a powerful ally in Roswell Park.

“I am proud to have the support of Roswell Park on this issue. If the leading voice of cancer research both nationally and in our community is saying this is long overdue, I don’t see how anyone can argue otherwise,” Burke said.

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