(HealthDay News) – Many smoking parents expose their children to tobacco smoke in cars, but few parents are advised by pediatricians to implement a smoke-free car policy, according to a study published online Nov. 12 in Pediatrics.

Emara Nabi-Burza, MBBS, of the Massachusetts General Hospital for Children in Boston, and colleagues examined the prevalence and factors associated with strictly enforced smoke-free car policies among smoking parents in a randomized controlled trial involving exit interviews of 981 smoking parents whose children were seen at 10 control pediatric practices.

Of the 817 parents with a car, 795 answered questions about their car smoking policy. The researchers found that 29% had a smoke-free car policy and 24% had a strictly enforced smoke-free policy. Those with a strictly enforced policy tended to have a younger child and smoke ≤10 cigarettes per day. Of those without a smoke-free car policy, 48% reported that smoking occurred while children were present in the car. Only 12% of smoking parents were advised by their pediatricians to institute a smoke-free car policy.

“This research highlights the magnitude of the problem of parents exposing their children to tobacco smoke in cars. Strict 100% smoke-free car policies would help reduce tobacco smoke exposure of children and aid in protecting them from its harmful health effects,” the authors write. “Pediatricians can help protect children from tobacco smoke exposure in cars by prioritizing addressing tobacco use with parents and advising them to have strict smoke-free car policies.”

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