Bill snuffs smoking if kids are in the car - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

Bill snuffs smoking if kids are in the car

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Posted: Wednesday, June 17, 2009 4:02 pm | Updated: 3:12 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

If you like to smoke while driving your family around, you soon could be out of luck. On a 4-1 margin the Senate Committee on Public Safety and Human Services voted to make it illegal to light up if there is anyone younger than 18 in the vehicle.

If you like to smoke while driving your family around, you soon could be out of luck.

On a 4-1 margin the Senate Committee on Public Safety and Human Services voted to make it illegal to light up if there is anyone younger than 18 in the vehicle. Violators would be fined at least $50 for each underage occupant in the vehicle.

Those who don't get the message the first time would be hit even harder: Each subsequent offense would cost an additional $50 for each minor.

"Any child should not have to be in a vehicle with an adult that is smoking," said Sen. Al Melvin, R-Tucson.

SB1440 is being pushed heavily by the American Cancer Society.

"There's just no safe levels of secondhand smoke," said Colby Bower, who lobbies for the organization.

"We know it. The surgeon general has confirmed it a few years ago," he said. "And 50,000 deaths a year due to secondhand smoke certainly remind us secondhand smoke kills."

Bower said the smoke from someone else's cigarette has 4,000 chemicals, more than 60 of which have been linked to cancer.

He said two things make the issue of adults who smoke in cars particularly acute.

First, said Bower, is the fact that lots of people drive around with their windows rolled up. He said that makes for air with "extreme toxicity," 10 times higher than what the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency considers hazardous.

Bower said rolling the windows down doesn't help much, especially with particulates.

Second is the argument that children are more susceptible to the health problems from someone else's smoke.

"Their lungs aren't fully developed," he said.

"And, pound for pound, kids breathe more air," Bower continued. "Their bodies require more oxygen and they take more breath."

If nothing else, Bower said the measure, if it becomes law, would give parents another reason to quit smoking themselves.

Not everyone on the committee thought the legislation was a good idea.

"I hate smoke," said Sen. Linda Gray, R-Glendale. But she said these issues are ones of "parental choice" that should not be legislated.

But Sen. Leah Landrum Taylor, D-Phoenix, said she has seen too many situations where the young passengers become victims of the driver's habits.

"You're thinking of these poor children that are in the car with the windows completely rolled up and having no choice except for inhaling," she said.

The measure now goes to the full Senate.

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