The Canadian Cancer Society has applauded a small town in Nova Scotia which dismissed criticism that banning smoking in cars carrying children is too intrusive and instead cited the evolution of anti-smoking laws across the country.

The town council of Wolfville voted in favour of the bylaw, the first of its kind in Canada.

Meg McCallum, a spokeswoman for the cancer agency, said the bylaw is part of a societal shift that began years ago when similar bans were placed on aeroplanes followed by workplaces, restaurants and bars across much of Canada.

"It's all about what's best for children and young people. This is part of evolving to a culture where being tobacco free is the norm," she said.

The law, expected to come into effect on June 1, 2008, will prohibit children under 18 from being exposed to secondhand smoke in a vehicle.

Wolfville Mayor, Bob Stead has insisted the law is not about hunting for people who are violating the bylaw, but raising awareness.

"For the most part, it's a matter of bringing to people's attention the health risks that are associated with smoking in cars, particularly for children," he said.

First-time offenders can expect a warning, but a subsequent offence will result in a fine.

To ensure that motorists are aware of the law, signs will be posted at entry points into the community and tourist destinations.

The mayor said he hoped the bylaw will put pressure on other jurisdictions to follow suit.

McCallum said the bylaw will not only improve the health of children, but discourage them from picking up the habit themselves.
The concentration of secondhand smoke, which has been linked to asthma, sudden infant death syndrome and cancers, is higher in a vehicle than in a larger space such as a bar or restaurant, the cancer agency says.

"Children's respiratory systems are less developed and their respiratory rates are higher, so they're breathing quicker and taking in more of the toxins."

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