Nova Scotia province will become the first in Canada to ban smoking in cars with children under the age of 19, as of next year, public health officials said Friday.
According to the Canadian Cancer Society, levels of second-hand smoke in vehicles and other confined spaces can be far higher than in smoky bars or other public places where smoking may be permitted.
But critics of the act say it would be difficult to enforce, with hundreds of thousands of cars and trucks on local roads and highways.
Joe Gillis, spokesman for Premier Rodney MacDonald, told AFP: "The bill is not out to make criminals of mothers and fathers. It's there to ensure the health of children."
Once the legislation is proclaimed into law mid-January, infractions will result in a 385-dollar fine, said Lucas Wide of Nova Scotia's Health Promotion department.
Rob Cunningham, a policy analyst with the Canadian Cancer Society, told the daily National Post the agency is "absolutely delighted" with the new law, which is also supported by the Canadian Medical Association.
"We believe this will have impact in provinces across the country to encourage similar laws to be adapted," Cunningham told the paper.
Indeed, similar legislation to ban smoking in cars with kids have been proposed in British Columbia and Ontario.