Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Something many parents do may be illegal

I see parents do this just about everyday and it could soon be illegal in one state. I can't remember the details about Illinois, but I think we tried to pass a similar law. Peoria County has a very high smoking rate so there is a good chance some parents are smoking in their cars with their babies in the back seat. But how far should government go to protect kids from second hand smoke? The parents most likely own the car they are smoking in. Can the state restrict smoking there? I don't know, but it's an interesting concept. I think most of you know kids shouldn't be exposed to second hand smoke, but can we force parents to abide by that rule?

FROM CNN: You've probably heard of drivers being fined for drinking and driving. Well, a Maryland lawmaker is supporting legislation that would fine drivers for smoking and driving if they have a child eight years or younger in the vehicle. 

Doing this in a car, with a child passenger eight years old or younger, even with the windows down, could cost you a 50 dollar fine. Some smokers think the proposal goes too far. They say the law of common sense should apply instead. "I have a nine-month-old granddaughter, and I am a smoker, but I wouldn't never think about smoking around her. To me it's very common sense." 

Senate bill 288 under consideration in the judicial proceedings committee also prohibits the driver from allowing other passengers in the vehicle to smoke in the presence of a child. It would not be considered a moving violation, although police agencies would be responsible for enforcing it , since a child that young must be in a car seat. "We protect adults in elevators, conference rooms, restaurants, and restrooms, buses, trains, but we don't protect our own children, our own young children in cars."

Legislative observers are surprised that the clean indoor air act of 2007 doesn't extend to private vehicles. It prohibits smoking in vehicles used to transport children. Children are especially vulnerable to developing respiratory disorders, bronchitis, asthma, even permanent reduced lung capacity.The general assembly is considering as many as nine bills that prohibit doing something in a car. 

For example, distracted while driving carries a 500 dollar fine. The definition of distraction includes reading, writing, personal grooming, watching a video display or attending to a child. And several variations of no texting while driving is back for consideration. But the smoking ban in personal vehicles when there is a baby on board is getting a lot of attention.

"If you're in a car and you light up a cigarette, you are as good as sharing that cigarette with your three-year-old, strapped in a car seat." A similar bill failed in Maryland two years ago, but this year there are more co-sponsors, and enforcement has been taken out of health care and put in the hands of police.

Do you wish your state had this law or do you think it infringes on a person's right to smoke?

-NewsAnchorMom Jen


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