United States: Smoking in cars with children is banned in 11 states, and legislators are calling for the same in West Virginia, where more adults smoke than any other state, as per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data.
The state Senate on Monday passed a bill that is aimed to impose fines on people who are caught with lit cigarette or tobacco in a vehicle in which there is someone aged 16 or under, reported US News.
The bill recently passed through a vote of 25-8 and is now in the House of Delegates where a similar bill has failed and may face an uncertain future.
Inspiration for the bill
Tom Takubo, the Senate Majority Leader who is a doctor-turned-lawmaker, had given a promise to a patient, whose father was a heavy smoker, that he would try to outlaw smoking in the vehicles carrying children in West Virginia, reported US News.
Takubo has been making almost annually since 2017 attempts to propose the legislation, but it didn’t succeed.
The Kanawha County Republican and a lung doctor said the inspiration for the bill was one of their patients who was not a smoker but who lost 50 percent of her lung capacity.
Tukubo added, “She (the patient) had to climb down to the bottom of the car and put her head underneath the seat,” reported US News.
Expected Fines from the defaulters
Violators may be penalized through a misdemeanor fine, which may go up to $25. However, it would be considered a secondary offense: smoking in front of children cannot be the main reason a driver is pulled over.
Criticism against the bill
Moreover, according to Senate Mike Azinger, a Republican from Wood County, the government should not be entitled to control of parental rights.
According to US News, he said, “The arguments for the bill are essentially emotional arguments,” and, “This is a cut at the fundamental rights of parents making a decision over their children in their vehicle. This is a state going where it has no business going.”