This is an issue I haven’t heard as much lately. It was starting to become a big deal in a lot of states two or three years ago.
England (not the United Kingdom, just England), is set to ban smoking in vehicles with children. So far, seven states (California, Oregon, Vermont, Arkansas, Utah, Louisiana, Maine) and Puerto Rico have all banned smoking in cars with kids (though I’m a little annoyed that the age limit in Arkansas is 6 and in Vermont it’s 8 — so it’s OK to subject 7- and 9-year-old kids to cigarette smoke in cars?
Most Canadian provinces and Australian states have also banned smoking in cars with kids, as well as a few other countries, including South Africa. A few U.S. cities have banned it, too.
English MPs voted 367-107 recently to create the new law. It still needs to go through a few hoops to become law, which will likely happen in 2015. According to the Guardian article I linked to, that is a larger margin than the vote to impose a smoking ban on bars and restaurants in England.
According to the Guardian article:
The public appears to back the ban. In March, a YouGov poll for the anti-smoking group ASH found that 77% of adults, including 64% of those who smoke, supported the criminalisation of smoking in cars carrying anyone under 18.
A few years ago, I was a bit dubious about the idea of smoking bans in cars, it smelled a bit like too much government overreach, but the more I thought about it, the more I agreed with these laws. Look, if you’re too damned stupid to realize just how damaging it is to kids’ respiratory systems to subject them to cigarette smoke in a vehicle (even with the windows rolled down), maybe you need the embarrassment of being pulled over and paying a $75 fine for your sheer stupidity. To me, it’s no different from parents being pulled over for their kids not being in their seatbelts. Maybe for stupid people, a ticket and lecture from a cop is the only way for them to start giving it some thought. To me, smoking in cars with kids borders on genuine child abuse (I remember how much my eyes and throat and nose would burn on trips with my chain-smoking parents.).
It’s too bad that the momentum for these common-sense laws has stalled. The country’s lurched to the right, and no one likes new rules and regulations, especially a regulation essentially telling stupid parents how to act around their kids. I get that.
I bend over backward not to make smokers self-conscious with my views about tobacco; no matter how hard I try, a number of smokers get defensive with me. I get that, too. Smokers are social pariahs, they have to put up with dirty looks and people fake-coughing all the time.
However, that being said, the ONLY smokers I am down on are the stupid smokers who light up around kids, ESPECIALLY in cars. At least two or three times a year, I still see people smoking in cars with kids, usually with the windows rolled up. And it always leaves me livid when I see it.