Health district effort targets drivers who light up

By Sharon Salyer

Herald Writer

A campaign asking the public to pledge to keep their cars smoke-free kicks off this week, part of a countywide effort to reduce the exposure of youths to secondhand tobacco smoke.

Packets will be mailed on request to drivers and include pledge cards, decals with the campaign theme Auto Be Smoke Free, information on the dangers of secondhand smoke, and even plastic plugs with a nonsmoking insignia that can be installed in cigarette lighter slots.

The pledge cards are also available online at www.snohd.org, the Snohomish Health District Web site.

"A big part of the campaign are smoke-free pledge cards that drivers can fill out saying they’ll provide smoke-free cars for themselves and their families," said Deanne Thompson, health educator for the health district, which is sponsoring the event.

Drivers who return the pledge cards will be entered into a drawing for prizes, including child car seats and a certificate for a free auto detailing.

The $5,000 campaign is being paid for by money the state receives as part of the national settlement with tobacco companies. Its aim is to increase public understanding of the dangers of cigarette smoke, not just to smokers but those around them. A child’s exposure to secondhand smoke in a car for an hour is equivalent to that child smoking three cigarettes, she said.

In addition, children exposed to secondhand smoke stay sick longer and have more coughs, colds and asthma attacks, Thompson said.

"If people aren’t ready to quit, if they know that they’re harming people in their family, maybe they will at least change their behavior," Thompson said.

"Of course, we’d love them to quit altogether," she added. "If the first step is not smoking in the car or house, it’s helping them as well as those around them."

Earlier this year, the health district worked with six area bowling centers to establish fixed times and days when smoking is banned. A dining guide listing area restaurants that are smoke-free will be produced by the end of July.

You can call Herald Writer Sharon Salyer at 425-339-3486

or send e-mail to salyer@heraldnet.com.

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