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Ban smoking in cars.

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DEMOCRATS MEDIA 05/020 SATURDAY 22 JANUARY 2005 SENATOR LYN ALLISON AUSTRALIAN DEMOCRATS LEADER BAN SMOKING IN CARS Banning smoking in cars would cut down on bushfires, littering, car accidents and cancer, the Leader of the Australian Democrats, Senator Lyn Allison, said today. “Too many avoidable fires are started by butts discarded from cars,” Senator Allison said. At least 4574 fires a year are caused by cigarettes and smoking materials. Studies show cigarettes or matches cause around 7% of fires in Victoria and in NSW, butts cause 4% of roadside fires. “The tobacco industry has failed to develop cigarettes that are fire-safe (self-extinguishing) or biodegradable,” she said. “Aside from the fire and health risks, a car in which the driver is smoking is far more likely to be involved in an accident. Smoking while driving is as distracting - and therefore dangerous - as using a mobile phone and that is illegal. “Smoking is a dangerous activity in many ways, and not just for the smoker. It is appropriate to have controls on where people can light up a potentially deadly product.” Senator Lyn Allison said she thought it was inevitable that smoking in vehicles would eventually be banned. The Californian Senate has repeatedly supported legislation to ban smoking in cars with children inside. In 1999 a bill was put to the NSW Parliament to ban smoking in cars but was not supported by the major parties. “Public transport and planes, have long been smoke free. There is a strong case for enforcing smoke free driving,” Senator Allison concluded. The Democrats have been calling for the Prime Minister to release a key State-Federal Government report on bushfire management, completed in April 2004. The Democrats also recommend: - Introduction of a national standard fire warning system; - Safer planning and landscape strategies for fire-prone areas; - Better community education campaigns including infrastructure preparation and insurance coverage; - Greater focus on improving strategic firebreaks and buffers around vulnerable communities and assets, ensuring continued maintenance. Media Contact - Daele Healy - 0419 867 649