Testimony of Dover Youth to Youth
Smoking in Cars with Youth Present
Hello my name is Hannah Martescello. My name is William Demers, and my name is Kylan Mastro, and we are from Dover Youth to Youth — a large drug and alcohol abuse prevention student organization in Dover NH. We have 70 members who meet in 4 different groups to plan and conduct prevention projects in our community. And we are here to urge you to vote to pass SB 145.
One of our biggest health concerns is Second Hand Smoke. Second Hand Smoke can affect the natural development of the lungs, and this can cause long term, if not permanent, damage. Tobacco smoke contains over 7,000 chemicals, 69 of which can cause cancers, such as lung cancer, lymphoma, brain tumors in children, and leukemia (American Cancer Society Website). It is also linked to various diseases, and illnesses such as asthma, lower respiratory tract infections, and increased severe dementia syndromes (health.act.gov.au). Almost 1 million asthmatic kids in the U.S. suffer from increased problems due to Second Hand Smoke. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) states that “second hand smoke increases the number of asthma attacks and severity of asthma symptoms…” (smokefree.gov).
Now, in 2006, a study was conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health meant to measure the toxicity of SHS in cars. Researchers found that even with the driver’s windows opened, the amount of second hand smoke in the car is approximately 7 times higher than the EPA’s hazardous level. According to the EPA, air is considered unhealthy with sensitive groups such as children and the elderly when SHS concentrations are above 40 micrograms per cubic meter. In the study, the air reached a concentrated level of 272 and a peak of 505 micrograms per cubic meter. These results show that smoking a single cigarette in a car can result in extremely harmful levels of second hand smoke, especially for children, like us. This once again can lead to cancer and other severe diseases.
A similar study conducted by Stanford university used the EPA’s “Air Quality Index”, as you can see on our poster. The AQI quantifies toxicity on a scale of 0-500. During the study conducted, cigarettes were smoked in a car with the windows rolled up and down. With the windows rolled down, the air reached the Unhealthy zone within seconds. Then, with the windows rolled up, the air quality reached a level of approximately 1,000 micrograms, which is far over the hazardous level. The study also found that the majority of second hand smoke pools in the back of the car, where younger passengers sit.
Other states have passed this bill as well. As of 2017, states such as Maine, Vermont, Arkansas, California, Louisiana, Oregon, and Utah have passed a similar bill. For example, in the state of Vermont, it is illegal to smoke in cars with children under the age of 8, this law is primary, and has been effective since July 1st, 2014.
Overall the effects posed from smoking in cars with children can be severe and life threatening to the child. Reducing the amount of second hand smoke kids are exposed to now, could greatly help our long term health. Although the largest opposition to this bill is that it targets parents specifically, we would like to make it clear that this is a restriction on all drivers. This could include anyone driving someone under the age of 16. This bill protects children from the potentially dangerous decisions made by grandparents, babysitters, aunts, uncles, older siblings, and friends. And as youth in our community, we feel targeted by this issue. I myself am 15 and cannot drive, so I have to drive with other adults. Therefore, if any of these drivers make the decision to smoke in the car with me, I am forced to breathe the toxic air that their smoking would produce. And as minors, we are all forced to deal with the possibly dangerous environment that drivers create. By passing this law you would be giving us a voice towards something that is out of our control. With all this being said we strongly encourage you to vote in favor of Senate bill 145.