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Should you get a ticket for smoking in the car while a kid is in it?

Rebecca Bracken is a news and views writer.






Fines for smoking while kids in the car: Good idea or nanny state nonsense?

The city of Tempe, Arizona, is considering a law that would fine drivers for smoking in the car while a child is in it. And it's not alone.

Currently seven states, including California and Oregon, already have laws like this on the books. Others, like Nevada, are currently considering similar legislation.

The law would mean drivers who smoke while a kid is in the car could be fined only if they are pulled over for another violation — like running a stop sign.

But the real question is, does banning smoking in cars really do anything to limit kids' exposure to smoke? If a parent smokes while a kid is in the car, aren't they likely also smoking at home too?

"If we are really that concerned about safety of children, then any law banning smoking in a car with a child should also levy increased fines for speeding and reckless or impaired driving with a child present," David Kuneman, director of research at Citizens Freedom Alliance, whose group advocates for smokers' rights, told the Arizona Republic.

And he makes a point. But the CDC says that smoke-free policies of all kinds have, in fact, gone a long way to cut instances of asthma, heart attack and stroke for hospitality workers and others who have benefited from smoke-free legislation.

At the same time, isn't smoking legal? Why in the world would we fine parents for participating in a legal activity?

As someone with parents who happily puffed away in the car in the 1970s and '80s, banning smoking in cars with kids in them seems like it might not be a bad idea. I used to spend hours in the back seat of a Subaru station wagon with the inside windows literally coated with a film of tobacco. It smelled. My hair and clothes smelled. But no one thought it might be bad for me or any other kid, because it was just what parents did. Sometimes progressive legislation is necessary to help change people's behaviors — even just a little.

So what do you think? Should people who smoke in the car with a kid in it be fined? Have you ever smoked in a car with a child in it? Would love to hear what you think.

Here's more on the proposed Tempe smoking ban in cars with kids:

More on smoking dangers

Marlboro Man Darrell Winfield's true legacy
E-cigarettes are not actually a healthy smoking alternative
What quitting smoking is really like

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