Smoking In Cars: WA Smoking when kids are in the car

Washington House Bill 2519 Update

“Whatever happened to common sense?”
Puffing mad
Add to smoking’s deleterious effects government’s grip
Editor, The Times:
Apparently Olympia is trying to pass legislation that would make it a crime, punishable by a traffic citation, if you’re caught smoking in a car with a child or children under the age of 18 in it [“Bills would ban smoking when kids are in the car,” Times, Politics, Jan. 19].
In case you haven’t been in a car when someone else is smoking in it, it is a crime! I’m not sure we need Olympia to tell us this and I’m pretty sure our police force has better things to do than to pull over someone hacking a butt.
But, if this legislation does come to fruition, maybe they could issue the offending person a stupid ticket. Smoking in a car with other nonsmokers onboard is stupid. Let’s call it what it is. It’s inconsiderate, too.
This whole cigarette issue could easily go away if we just made them illegal. Other than the taxes collected and the jobs that are generated from them, what good are they? There’s no safe way to use them that I know of.
Used as directed you: get cancer, burn your house down while you sleep, kill your nonsmoking partner with secondhand smoke, kill your children as they ride around in a car with you, dirty the walls of your home, give your hair that oh-so-fresh smell, annoy your neighbors as you smoke on your balcony, litter the streets wherever you are, take more and longer breaks at work so you can suck on one more ciggy, spend money you don’t really have, put burn holes in your nice clothes, make the inside of your car smell like a tavern, give yourself a year-round cough, take more days off from work because you’re sick more, become a burden on the health-care system, beg for money from friends and co-workers ‘cuz you forgot yours, throw lit objects from your car and start forest fires, etc., etc.
This is a big Duh! issue for me, but those in Olympia can say they did something for the betterment of mankind.
Whatever happened to common sense?
— Steve Drake, Seattle

Bill would extend smoking ban to protect children
January 21, 2008
OLYMPIA – Drivers would be well-advised to think twice before sparking a cigarette with a minor in the car, under a proposed law in the Washington Legislature.
A bill sponsored by Rep. Shay Schual-Berke, D-Normandy Park, would make it illegal for drivers or passengers to smoke if anyone younger than 18 is present in the vehicle. The bill calls for any offender to be ticketed, but only if police officers have stopped the car for another offense such as speeding.
“Second-hand smoke in a closed space such as a vehicle is so toxic,” said Schual-Berke in a public hearing on her bill this afternoon in the House Transportation Committee. “I cannot stand when I drive around and I see people smoking and I watch their children in the back seat choking.”
The measure follows the lead of two laws already enacted in Washington – one that bans smoking in bars and restaurants, and another requiring all drivers and passengers to wear seat belts.
Schual-Berke said she expects a battle over the bill with right-to-privacy advocates, who see the bill as the government interfering with an aspect of people’s private lives. But, she said the previous laws give her the legal justification needed to enforce a ban on smoking in cars with minors present.
Public health advocates applauded and supported the bill during its committee hearing, and said it takes a good step toward improving children’s health.
“There’s a shocking similarity between the exhaust that comes out the rear of the car and the second-hand smoke inside the car,” said Mike Shaw, who spoke at the hearing on behalf American Heart Association and the American Cancer Society. “You wouldn’t want your kids sucking on the back of a tailpipe, so don’t smoke in your car.”
-Peter Jensen

Bills would ban smoking when kids are in the car

January 19, 2008
By Yu Nakayama

OLYMPIA — Some lawmakers want to extend the state’s smoking ban to inside your car — at least when children are there.

Two bills in the Legislature would make it a traffic infraction to smoke in a car carrying children. House Bill 2519 would outlaw smoking around passengers younger than 18, while Senate Bill 6287 sets the age limit at 13 or younger.

The proposals are aimed at protecting kids from secondhand smoke, which has been linked to asthma, cancer and other ailments.

“I’m not looking for ways to punish people,” said Rep. Shay Schual-Berke, D-Normandy Park, sponsor of the House bill. “I want to address behaviors that address public-health issues.”

Voters approved an initiative in 2006 banning smoking in public places statewide, including bars and restaurants.

If either of the current bills pass, Washington would join California, Arkansas and Louisiana as states that bar smoking in private vehicles carrying children.

Both bills would make the infraction a secondary offense, meaning a law-enforcement officer would have to stop a driver for another infraction, such as speeding, before issuing a smoking citation.

The smoking infractions wouldn’t become part of the driver’s record or be made available to insurance companies or employers.

State law already prohibits foster parents from smoking while a child is in the car.

“It seemed only logical to protect all kids, not just foster kids,” said Sen. Chris Marr, who’s sponsoring the Senate bill.

Both Marr, D-Spokane, and Schual-Berke said they don’t care which of the two bills is successful.

“A kid who is reeking of tobacco and coughing of asthma doesn’t really care if it’s a House bill or a Senate bill,” Schual-Berke said.

The legislation has widespread support, including from the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association and American Lung Association. Law-enforcement agencies, state troopers and firefighters also back the bills.

There is little or no opposition from the tobacco industry.

Philip Morris, one of the largest tobacco companies in the country, chose not to oppose the bills.

“Our general position is that we believe that particular care should be exercised when it comes to children, and adults should avoid smoking around them,” said David Sutton, a spokesman for Philip Morris. “It’s really that simple.”

The little opposition that Marr and Schual-Berke said they’ve heard is from within the Legislature. Some lawmakers fear the proposed ban is another extension of the so-called “nanny state,” where government increasingly takes away choice in order to protect its citizens.

The Evergreen Freedom Foundation, a conservative think tank, doesn’t plan to formally oppose the bills but did mention them in its online blog under a post titled “Stupid Bills: Vol. I.”

“A few people are squeamish towards it, asking, ‘Are we over-legislating?’ ” Marr said. “I understand that, but I raise the standard when it comes to health risks to kids.”

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