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 factiva.com 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.