I think smoking in a car with a child has a more lasting effect than giving a child a slap in the face. They're both horrible things, but one is going to kill the child…I know that's a hard comparison, but that's the reality of it.
Contrary to Lafayette's claim that every child who rides in a car with a smoker will die as a result, what the epidemiological evidence actually indicates is that small children whose parents smoke have a somewhat higher risk of earaches and lower respiratory infections. So maybe smoking around a kid is not quite as bad as beating him.
Assemblywoman Sandra Galef (D-Ossining), who wants to ban smoking on playgrounds, has a similarly keen grasp of the evidence. "The scientific reports say that secondhand smoke has as much of a negative effect on your health as smoking directly," she claims. Got that, kids? If your parents smoke, you might as well start smoking yourself; the effects won't be any worse.
Lafayette and Galef may be idiots, but they're taking their cues from people who know better, or ought to. "There is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke," says New York Health Commissioner Richard Daines, echoing former Surgeon General Richard Carmona's scientifically groundless assertion. As Siegel tirelessly documents on his blog, anti-smoking activists go further, warning that brief exposure to secondhand smoke could make your arteries indistinguishable from those of a pack-a-day smoker.