Oregon Legislature Bans Smoking In Cars With Minors Present
By Evan Bleier, Tue, June 04, 2013
Oregon smokers who decide to have a cigarette with kids in the car might soon be ticketed for lighting up.
The Oregon House passed a bill prohibiting smoking in a car when minors under the age of 18 are present. The House passed Senate Bill 444 on Monday with a 43-15 vote, and it will now move on to Gov. John Kitzhaber’s desk.
Police will be able to ticket smokers if they were pulled over for another offense. The violation would cost $250 for the first offense and $500 for subsequent offenses.
Supporters of the bill say it will protect children from secondhand smoke. Opponents have argued the state should not restrict what drivers do in their own cars, OregonLive reported.
Rep. Mitch Greenlick is supportive of the measure.
“I think this bill is really an important bill,” Greenlick said.
Rep. Jim Thompson also thinks it is important to reduce the public’s exposure to secondhand smoke.
“This is a bill whose time has come,” Thompson said. “We clearly know the effects of secondhand smoke on health.”
Rep. Jeff Barker is against the bill because it makes smoking in cars a secondary offense, and many police departments ask their officers to issue only one ticket per traffic stop.
“If this is that important, it shouldn’t be a secondary offense,” Barker said. “It should be a primary offense.”
Gov. Kitzhaber said he will sign the bill into law.
Thompson said. “We clearly know the effects of secondhand smoke on health.”
Sort of. We know that if we accept the EPA Report’s conclusion, based upon altering the norms of statistical correlation from 95% down to 90%, that working with smokers in the smoky environments of the 1950s through 1970s will produce, on average, one extra lung cancer for every 40,000 worker-years of exposure.
And THAT is what they’re basing a law on regarding a few minutes of exposure in the HIGHLY ventilated environment of a moving car with the windows down? The relative concentration is probably on the order of 1/100th of those old indoor smoking environments, which would mean one extra lung cancer for driving with people smoking for every FOUR MILLION years of exposure.
Michael J. McFadden
Author of “Dissecting Antismokers’ Brains”.
Smoking in cars when children are present
June 4, 2013
By Thomas Laprade
I’m afraid that the proposal to ban smoking in cars occupied by children represents an unwarranted intrusion into the privacy and autonomy of parenthood. The autonomy to make one’s own decision about risks to subject a child to is not to be interfered with lightly.? It should only be done in cases where there is a substantial threat of severe harm to the child.? Interfering with parental autonomy in a case where there is only minor risk involved is unwarranted.
Let me explain what I mean by substantial threat of severe harm and minor risk. If an infant is riding in a car without a car seat, there is a substantial threat of severe harm should the car be involved in an accident. In fact, if the car is in any major accident, severe harm to the child is almost certain. Death is likely if the accident is severe. The connection between not being in the child restraint and suffering severe injury or death in an accident is direct, immediate, and definitive.
On the other hand, exposure to second-hand smoke in a car in most cases merely poses an increased risk of upper respiratory or middle ear infection. The likelihood, more often than not, is that the child will not suffer any harm. What is involved is only an elevation of risk for an ailment. There is no certainty of harm, nor is there any substantial threat of severe harm. The harm, if any occurs, is removed in time from the exposure and in most cases it is impossible to directly connect the exposure with the ailment. Thus, the connection is neither direct, immediate, nor definitive.
This difference is not subtle. In fact, it is so stark that it serves as the? basis for deciding when society should interfere with parental autonomy? regarding exposure of their own children to health risks. Generally, causing harm to children or putting them at substantial risk of severe, direct, immediate, and definitive harm is viewed as something for which there is a legitimate government interest in interfering with parental autonomy. Simply placing children at an increased risk of more minor health effects is not? something for which there is a legitimate government interest in interfering? with parental autonomy.
If we extended the argument of the supporters of this proposed legislation, then we would also have to support laws that regulate a wide range of? parental activity that takes place in the private home which places children? at increased risk of adverse health effects.
We would have to ban arents from smoking in the home. We would have to ban? arents from drinking more than a drink or two at a time in the home. We would have to ban arents from using insecticides and esticides. We would have to ban arents from allowing their children out in the sun without sunscreen. We would have to ban arents from allowing their children to ride giant roller coasters. We would have to ban arents from serving their children foods that contain trans-fats. We would have to ban arents from serving their children eanuts before age 3. We would have to ban arents? from allowing their children to drink soda that contains sodium benzoate and? citric acid.
? a.. Allowing their infants to play with walkers;
? b.. Allowing their children to watch more than four hours of television
? c.. Failing to ensure that their children get adequate physical activity;
? d.. Owning a wood-burning stove;
? e.. Failing to filter water that contains trihalomethanes;
? f.. Not boiling their babies” bottles before serving them milk;
? g.. Not breastfeeding their infants;
? h.. Allowing their children to watch violent television programs;
? i.. Allowing their children to watch R-rated movies;
? j.. Serving alcohol at a party;
? k.. Allowing their children to drink alcohol; and
? l.. Failing to keep vitamins out of the reach of children.
One could easily argue that ‘If you love your children, [these are all
things] you should learn not to do.’ That may or may not be true, but what is clear is that we should not interfere with parental autonomy by banning all of these things.
The question I find interesting is why a child advocate would single out smoking around one’s children as the sole example of a situation in which the government interferes with the autonomy of a parent to make decisions regarding the exposure of her children to a health risk. What is it about smoking that, among all of the myriad above health risks to which parents often expose their children, it is the one and only one that is chosen to be regulated?
I fear that the answer is that there is a moral stigma attached to smoking as opposed to these other risky parenting behaviors. And I also fear that it is the anti-smoking movement that has contributed to this moral stigma. What it ultimately comes down to, I’m afraid, is that the anti-smoking movement is starting to moralize. We are starting to try to dictate societal morals, rather than to stick to legitimate public health protection.
It’s a dangerous line that we’re crossing. Because once that line is crossed, there’s little assurance that the autonomy of parents to make decisions regarding raising their children can or will be adequately protected.