Worried about the effects of secondhand smoke on children, state Sen. Charleta Tavares is pushing a bill for the second time in two years that would ban smoking in a car with a young child.
“Children are particularly vulnerable to the effect of secondhand smoke because they are still developing physically, have higher breathing rates than adults, and have little control over their indoor environments,” said Tavares, D-Columbus, during sponsor testimony before the Criminal Justice Committee yesterday.
If passed, Senate Bill 130 would prohibit smoking in a motor vehicle when a child younger than 6 is a passenger. Tavares first presented the bill in February 2012 but it did not make it out of committee.
During yesterday’s testimony, Tavares said her biggest concern is that a child riding in a car with a smoker has no way of escaping the 4,000 substances in secondhand smoke that are known to cause cancer.
Tavares successfully pushed for a ban on smoking in public places in Columbus while she was on city council in 2004, two years before a statewide ban became law.
Other states, such as Arkansas, Louisiana, California and Maine, have laws that ban smoking in vehicles with passengers ranging from younger than 13 to 17, with fines of $50 to $100, depending on the state. Tavares’ bill would impose a $500 fine for the first offense and another $500 fine plus $250 for subsequent violations.
Dr. Tom Houston, chairman of the Columbus Breathing Association, a group that promotes lung health and fights lung disease, said the group supports the bill.
“We feel clean indoor air is very important,” he said. “The issue is when children are exposed (to secondhand smoke), they have a higher risk of asthma and other respiratory disease. So exposing kids (in) the car — in the confined space — is really hazardous to their health.
“The whole point is there are (thousands of) chemicals and kids don’t need to be breathing them."
By Alex Felser - The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio (MCT)
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