Lawmakers in New York are trying to add the state to the list of others that prohibit adults from smoking in cars if children are present. If passed, the law would carry a $100 fine to those who are caught lighting up.
Senator Toby Ann Stavisky, a Democrat from Queens, sponsored the bill that she hopes will remind parents that their actions affect their children. The bill comes as more news of the dangers of second hand smoke becomes known. Children who are exposed to cigarette smoke are more susceptible to asthma and related illnesses. Unlike adults, many children do not have the ability to avoid it.
“A child gets in the car where mommy or daddy or Aunt Nancy are smoking and doesn’t have the option of leaving,” she said.
The law would make it illegal for adults to smoke if there is a child under the age of 14 years in the car. Originally the law was written to include jail time and a $500 fine, but it was rewritten after protests. The new wording makes it an “educational bill more than a punitive bill,” according to Assemblywoman Nettie Mayersohn.
Currently Arkansas, Louisiana, Maine and California have similar bills. Russell Sciandra, a tobacco policy specialist with the American Cancer Society, feels a law such as this is an appropriate use of governmental power to protect children.
“We just want to give the kids a voice,” sad Mayersohn.
If passed, the law would be treated as a traffic violation. Police officers would be able to ticket a person for having a lit tobacco product when stopped. The fine would then be handled by the jurisdiction’s health department. – Summer, staff writer
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