Banning smoking in cars carrying children: an analytical history of a public health advocacy campaign

Aust N Z J Public Health. 2008 Feb;32(1):60-5. doi: 10.1111/j.1753-6405.2008.00167.x.


Objective: Framing public health policy reform in ways that attract public and political support is a core skill of advocacy. In this paper we summarise the 12-year Australian history of advocacy for banning smoking in cars carrying children, culminating in the governments of the Australian States of South Australia and Tasmania enacting legislation.

Method: 'Smoking in cars' was searched on the print news media database, with returns limited to Australian newspapers published before 1 June 2007.

Results: The issue of smoking in cars received extensive and emotive media coverage, primarily in support of legislating a ban. Invoking the protection of vulnerable children in the debate about smoking in cars was a powerful and persuasive theme. Unlike all other advocacy for smoke-free areas, this debate was not contested by the tobacco industry or other commercial interest groups.

Conclusions: Even in the absence of a co-ordinated advocacy campaign, public opinion studies on support for such legislation have been consistently strong. Communities view the protection of children as paramount and non-negotiable.

Implications: Smoke-free cars legislation can and should be fast tracked in order to capitalise on this community support.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Automobiles / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Child
  • Child Welfare*
  • Consumer Advocacy / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Female
  • Health Policy*
  • Health Promotion*
  • History, 20th Century
  • History, 21st Century
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Program Evaluation
  • Public Health / history*
  • Smoking Cessation / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Social Marketing*
  • South Australia
  • Tasmania