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article imageBan on smoking in cars with kids heads to Oregon governor

By Yukio Strachan     Jun 5, 2013 in Politics
Salem - Smokers in Oregon will have to think twice before lighting up in their cars. That's because the state legislature has approved a bill that would make it a crime to smoke in a car with kids.
The House approved the bill in a 43-15 vote on Monday.
According to the Statesman Journal the bill would prohibit drivers from smoking in cars if a person under 18 is present. It would be a secondary offense, meaning a police officer could tack on a fine for smoking only if the officer has already stopped the driver for a separate violation.
Prior attempts to pass similar legislation have failed in previous years, which is partially why the lead sponsor of the bill made smoking in a motor vehicle a secondary offense, the Statesman Journal writes.
Among the states that ban smoking in cars with kids, California and Maine consider it a secondary offense, while the violation is a primary offense in Louisiana and Arkansas.
“This is a bill whose time has come,” said Rep. Jim Thompson, a Dallas Republican, who was a chief sponsor of the legislation along with Sen. Elizabeth Steiner Hayward, D-Beaverton. ”We know the effects of secondhand smoke."
Thompson said society had come a long way in its attitudes toward smoking and protecting children was the logical next step. Children who are exposed to secondhand smoke are much more likely to develop asthma and can develop a dependency on nicotine, increasing the likelihood that they’ll pick up the cancer-causing habit and become addicted, says the Lund Report.
Supporters say the bill will protect children who cannot protect themselves from the harmful effects of second-hand smoke, the Associated Press reported. Opponents agree that second-hand smoke is dangerous, but say that the state shouldn't regulate what drivers do in their own cars.
Rep. Mitch Greenlick, D-Portland, addressed criticism that the legislation was a “nanny state” bill indicating that was a positive aspect, Statesman Journal writes.
“Nannies take care of the children they’re responsible for,” he told lawmakers on the House floor. “When parents are either too ignorant or too stupid, we have an obligation to remind them of what’s good for their children.”
Under the bill, the first offense would be a Class D traffic violation, which carries a maximum fine of $250. A second or subsequent offense would be a Class C traffic violation, which bumps up the maximum fine to $500, the Statesman Journal writes.
The Senate passed the bill on a 19-10 vote on March 13. Senate Bill 444 now heads to Gov. John Kitzhaber’s desk, where he is expected to sign it.
**What do you think about banning smoking in cars if children are present?**
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