Last night, the former federal health minister Tony Abbott told a crowd at the University of Sydney that he didn’t support the NSW laws which took effect yesterday, banning smoking in cars carrying kids.
As a child, he was regularly imprisoned in a car with heavy smokers, he said. “Both my parents smoked heavily wherever they were.”
He drew a few laughs when he threw back his arms, displaying his trim physique, and asked theatrically whether his childhood exposure had done him any harm.
While Abbott said he hoped parents wouldn’t smoke in cars with kids, it was probably far from the worst that they could do to their children, and he wouldn’t be inclined to legislate against it. “Being hard hearted to your kids and not encouraging them to do their best are far more important crimes,” he said.
Abbott’s comments must have rung a few bells for his opponent in the debate about the Nanny State, Professor Mike Daube, who has subsequently dug up the 2006 press release below from Christopher Pyne.
Daube’s comment: “His health might not have been affected by passive smoking, but his memory seemed to have been….”
THE HON CHRISTOPHER PYNE MP
Parliamentary Secretary to the
Minister for Health and Ageing
28 November 2006 CP81/06
Support for ban on smoking in cars with kids
Smoking in a confined space such as a car is particularly harmful and it is important to limit the exposure of children to this danger, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Health and Ageing, Christopher Pyne, said today.
Mr Pyne said he supported Tasmanian Senator Guy Barnett’s proposal to ban smoking in vehicles carrying children.
“Tobacco smoke is a combination of poisonous gases and breathable particles that are harmful to health, particularly that of children,” he said.
“In confined spaces, such as cars, babies and children can be exposed through passive smoking to these poisons and harmful particles.
“Smoking in a car is particularly harmful. It is, therefore, very important to limit the exposure of children to this danger.
“Children exposed to passive smoking are more likely to experience such serious illnesses as pneumonia, middle ear infections and asthma attacks.
“Every week, on average, someone under the age of 15 dies from a tobacco-related cause.
“Someone dies from the effects of passive smoking every second or third day – that is, five people every fortnight.”
“The effects of passive smoking on babies, in particular, must not be underestimated,” Mr Pyne said. “I commend Senator Barnett for making his stand on this and for calling on the states and territories to act.
“I shall raise these issues with state and territory ministers at the Ministerial Council on Drug Strategy on 15 December.”