City and County of Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell signed into law on Oct. 17 Bill 70 which restricts smoking in vehicles when minors are present.
The American Heart Association supported the bill’s passage as a step toward protecting Hawaii’s keiki from exposure to the toxic chemicals in tobacco smoke.
Children often don’t have a say in whether fellow passengers smoke while they are riding together in a vehicle. The body of evidence is clear that exposure to second hand tobacco smoke causes extensive health risks. Even the tobacco industry’s secret documents released as part of the industry’s lawsuit settlement with the states showed that Philip Morris scientists learned that secondhand smoke is chemically different than mainstream smoke inhaled by a smoker. The smoke drifting off the lit end of a cigarette releases larger, more poisonous molecules than those inhaled at the filter end. The heating that takes place in the process of smoking a cigarette helps to break down some toxins. Secondhand smoke was found to be three times more toxic to tissue culture cells than mainstream smoke.
Studies on the secondhand smoke’s effect on the cardiovascular system are also substantial and immediate. Within five minutes of exposure to secondhand smoke blood platelets become stickier. Within 15 minutes of exposure, scarring of the blood vessel walls occurs, causing plaque that leads to atherosclerosis to adhere more easily. Within 30 minutes of exposure, the risk for heart attack doubles.
Honolulu County joins Hawaii and Kauai counties, which previously passed similar laws, in taking this important step to protect our keiki from the health risks of tobacco smoke exposure. The AHA celebrates the Honolulu Council members, who voted 8-0 in support of the measure, for their commitment to our communities’ health.