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Butt Out: New York Bans Smoking In Cars When Kids Are Present

14 June 2011

Secondhand smoke kills – so it should come as no surprise that lawmakers would introduce a bill to ban smoking in cars where children are present.

In fact, a New York lawmaker, Assemblyman David Weprin, has done just that. In the proposed New York legislation, the smoking ban would apply to adults with children under the age of 14 in the car. It also applies even when the windows are rolled down. Reportedly, the bill’s current language calls for a fine of up to $100 for violators.

Other areas in New York have passed (Rockland County) or are considering (Nassau County) bills banning smoking in cars with any passengers under the age of 18.

Four other states already have a similar law on the books: Arkansas, California, Louisiana and Maine. In Arkansas, which already had a 2006 law banning smoking in the car if a child in a car seat is a passenger, “tweaked” the law in April of this year to prohibit smoking in the vehicle with children under 14 present.

Louisiana prohibits smoking in vehicles with children aged 12 and under – and it’s considered a moving violation. The law went into effect in Aug. 2006 and violators are assessed a minimum of 24 hours of community service and maximum fines up to $150.

California’s law went into effect Jan. 1, 2008 and was prompted, in part, by a 2006 Harvard School of Public Health report that said that secondhand smoke in cars can be up to 10 times more of a health risk than secondhand smoke in homes. In California’s law, smoking in a car with children under 18 is a secondary offense, meaning the motorist cannot be stopped by police just for violating the law. He or she could only be charged if stopped for some other moving violation. The fine for the smoking violation is up to $100.

Maine’s law went into effect in Sept. 2008 and bans smoking in any car when children under 16 are present. A driver may not be pulled over just for smoking but if caught in a moving violation can face a fine of $50.

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