Smoking With Kids in the Car Could Cost You $500

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In several states, it’s against the law to smoke in a car if children are present.

An Oregon law that took effect on Jan. 1 penalizes smokers with a $250 fine for a first offense and $500 for subsequent offenses if they are caught lighting up with someone under the age of 18 in the car, says The Oregonian. It’s a secondary offense, meaning the cops can’t stop you if they see you smoking with kids around but can issue you a ticket after pulling you over for a primary offense.

Six other states — Arkansas, California, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine and Utah — have similar laws, says the Star-Ledger in New Jersey, where there’s a proposal to impose a $100 fine for smoking in a car with anyone 16 or younger.

In Michigan, a proposed bill would set a $500 fine for smoking in the presence of anyone under 18 in a vehicle, and it would be a primary offense, reports MLive.

HealthDay News said a poll shows 82 percent of Americans think smoking should be banned in cars with kids younger than 13. It added:

Current smokers are among those who think that children should be protected from secondhand smoke: 60 percent of current smokers would support a ban on smoking in cars carrying children, compared with 84 percent of former smokers and 87 percent of people who never smoked, the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health found.

What do you think about these bans? Is this good policy or too much government involvement in people’s personal affairs? Share your thoughts in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

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Comments & discussion

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  • Carlos Demattos

    wish that were in place when I was a kid

    • Gregg Berlin

      I SAY THE SAME. I HAVE A REAL BAD CASE OF COPD BECAUSE OF 2ND HAND SMOKE. I NEVERED SMOKED!!!!

      • Jeffrey Dorfman

        Not saying it wasn’t 2nd hand smoke that caused it, but it could have been air pollution or some other cause. I know a lot of folks who had lung cancer and it did not come from 2nd hand smoke. Some people are more susceptible to COPD or cancer than others. Sometimes it runs in family genes. Just saying.

  • IBikeNYC

    What’s next? Jail time for giving your kids (*GASP*) full-fat foods?

    George Orwell is turning in his grave.

    • Old Highland Guy

      Yes, I do somewhat agree with you but, no one should be exposing children to tobacco smoke. They should have enough sense to not expose children to such stuff.
      Didn’t lung cancer kill George Orwell? <- Joke!

      • IBikeNYC

        LOL (ironic).

        Yes; THEY should have enough sense!

        Big Brother has his priorities all mucked up. I’ll spare you my soapbox, but there are at least dozens of things that are far more dangerous than smoking with your teenager in the car!

  • Steve Dristy

    sounds to me like another constitutional issue – since when can the government dictate what i can do or not do with myprivate property?

    • Old Highland Guy

      You may have private property but our government can take it any time they like. I and my wife both worked for a local government and saw how that works, the power of emminent domain (sp). Of course you will get fair, market price for your property, low book.
      Take for instance if you are a ham radio operator, as we both are, the government can come in any time without a warrant and either force us to do only government stuff or take all of our equipment. Even ham radio gear is private property and even though we paid for it, it isn’t ours.
      So, as you can see, this Republic is moving toward Socialism or is it Communisim, is there a difference really?

    • Lisa

      So it your constitutional right to endanger children on private property? What about their right to smoke free air?

      • Steve Dristy

        ever actuall checked the air quality in YOUR home? I have and it’s cleaner tha the outside air because of all the fireplaces being used!

    • Jeffrey Dorfman

      In the house is one issue. In the car is quite another. Your house is your castle. Your car is not a right; it’s a privilege. I do believe the smoking ban in cars with children should be a primary offense, but only with children under 16. Remember, it is still against the law to smoke if you’re under 21, so there should be no problem with this ban on smoking with young children in the car. It’s not like they can get away from it and lowering a window is not going to cut muster.

      • Kent

        It should be against the law anywhere. You do not have the right to do anything you want to a child in your house.

    • Draftdog

      The constitution has been trampled on so much in the last 60 years that is has become an area rug. It’s been a century since Americans have owned property. Quit deluding yourself into thinking this is a free country. The only real freedom we have is the freedom to say we don’t like what our government is doing. Most of Europe and North America; part of Asia and South America; and all of Australia have the same right. Americans are so pompous as to think we are the guardians of freedom, when in actuality our freedom is a mirage left over from a forgotten time.

      • Kent

        Drama queen.

    • Kent

      You should know that your rights stop where the rights of another begin. If that is not obviously the nose of a child, you are without hope.

    • Steve Dristy

      it is quite obvious by the vitriol that is being generated that the reasoning process for some individuals is/has been disengaged. THINK people -this is just the tip of the iceberg – where will it lead NEXT? The home, the ….bedroom…..the great (or not) outdoors? WHERE does the governmental interference in our lives END!

  • Brenda

    My poor dad smoked like it was food to him. I sat behind him in the car on trips and around town. My brother and mother sat on the passenger side. I was enveloped in smoke and ashes. I hate the smell of cigarette smoke to this day.

    • Cameron Fairmont

      I used to be trapped in the car while my Dad and step-mom smoked. I thought I would pass and and die on car trips. In a car you can’t escape. In the winter it was cold, they didn’t open the windows. At least in a house you can leave the room.

  • I Liberal

    I think that the law is an excellent idea. In an ideal world people would have enough sense and consideration not to smoke in confined spaces where other people, not just their children are exposed to the noxious fumes from their cigarettes.CIgarettes are loaded with a variety of poisons. Ample scientific evidence demonstrates that side stream smoke is not surprisingly harmful to bystanders as well as smokers. People who smoke with other people around are inconsiderate slobs.

  • CKL

    If second hand smoke were really a real health issue, your life and health insurance company, you know, the entities that deal with risk management, would ask you if you live with a smoker. Not one ever does. MYTH.

    • Draftdog

      Smokers grab at every straw in an attempt to justify the destructive behavior. I watch smokers throw their cigarette butts out windows, on the ground every day. I walk out of a building and get a blast of cigarette smoke because there are smokers standing right by the door. Smokers, not all but most, are some of the rudest irresponsible people I have the misfortune to come into contact with. It is slow motion suicide and they are too stupid to admit it and correct their behavior.

  • Pat Myers

    Willowsmom is absolutely right! Irresponsible adults have to be regulated to protect the rest of us.

    • scottbilker

      If you want regulation to protect us from smoking, then why isn’t it illegal? Oh yeah, because the regulators are cashing in on it.

    • chanctob

      Irresponsible adults? How arrogant and smug of you. So should we fine you for talking on your phone around kids. How about what you feed them, any more than 5% fat and according to the healthcare industry, you’d be an irresponsible adult, where would you like to stop it at? Did you have your carpets cleaned 4 times this year for allergens, that is regulated by the aca for allergens. Are you still feeding your kids margarine? It is within 4% of being plastic, regulated by fda. Yes, someone may smoke in the same room with a child, but you are Buying and Giving margarine to kids, how unsafe, how arrogant and smug of you to put kids in an unhealthy situation to save money on buying real butter. You think this is funny, you are an irresponsible adult as well. How would you like to pay your fines, Mastercard or check? Btw, the oil paint on your house it was painted with, is hazardous to your neighbor’s heath, he has asthma. Should he sue you for being irresponsible or would you like to just pay a fine? Smoking is intentional one might say, so that is intentional harm smoking around other people. Not knowing what is in margarine that is dangerous to children, and not researching and not knowing what kind of paint you used on your house as opposed to Public health, well, that’s negligence. Next time you say ‘irresponsible adults’, just because it’s smoking, look in the mirror and see how irresponsible you are to the public health. Claiming ignorance is no excuse, or defense.

      • Pat Myers

        I don’t have a cell phone, I don’t have carpets, I don’t buy margarine, I live alone, I recycle, conserve energy, don’t smoke, and if I did, would never do so indoors, or even outside if it were around other people. And it is you who are the smug and arrogant one, not to mention a close-minded jerk.

        • chanctob

          Wow. So self righteous and perfect. God abhors the self righteous. Wow, I bet you are fun to be around at gatherings. Oh wait, you probably don’t go to social gatherings or church, so there’s no chance of tarnishing your perfect self righteousness. If you can’t see or understand the point of my post, then your not so perfect and always right on everything the way you think you are. Everything that everyone does, affects others in way they don’t know, realize or understand. So judging others is wrong, you, are wrong to judge others or call anyone an irresponsible adult. When you yourself are ignorant to anything and everything you do, how it might affect someone else or the public in general. Right down to something as unimportant as flushing your unused medicines down the toilet to get rid of them, helps to contaminate the water supply in general. Your so perfect and self righteous, that you probably don’t do that or anything else that doesn’t fit your perfect being to anyone else. Let me take a guess. If or when you are wrong on something, and someone points it out to you. You get upset and defensive instead of just saying, oh, you are right. I was giving a general example, and you alienated me with your smug self righteous answer, just how fast do you alienate people. No matter, I will still say prayers for you, because, while not perfect as you are, it is still the right thing to do. god bless and have a nice day.

  • scottbilker

    Good concept; bad policy. How about fining them for smoking in their homes with children? Or a least the same room as a child. Is that next? “But Scott, there’s more room in a house. The smoke is dispersed.” Yeah, but what if the car windows are open! Where does this thinking end? I don’t have a solution, but fining people for smoking in their car isn’t it.

    • Draftdog

      It’s a start.

      • scottbilker

        {Sarcasm Alert} Wouldn’t a better start be making it illegal to smoke when you have children? How about if there is a law against selling tobacco to people who have children?

    • Kent

      If the healthcare costs of smoking were built into the price of cigarettes, nobody could afford to smoke. So, in truth, we all subsidize smoking.

  • Kathy Schreck Betty

    Considering that kids are at risk from second hand smoke, and others that don’t smoke I might add, and adults that smoke can’t protect their defenseless children from this hazard then I’m all for a law that prohibits it in cars. I would like to see the total banning of cigarettes because I can’t think of anything good about them. My neighbor died from lung cancer after 15 years of not smoking and my dad had emphysema and COPD at the end of his life that made the quality of his life poor and he had not smoked for over 30 years. The damage is done. So yeah, I’m for the laws!!

  • Draftdog

    Smoking is an offensive, dangerous and destructive activity. I don’t know what the answer is but this law sure can’t hurt. If nothing else it applies societal pressure for change in smokers behavior.

  • Joseph Freitas

    Explain to me how taking more money from the parents is protecting children? Obviously if someone is going to smoke in the car they do not think it is harmful to their children and therefor will do it regardless of the law. So in reality your just leaving this family with less money to raise their children because they have to pay this fine. Just a way for the government to steal more money from people under the guise of protecting children…

    • Kent

      It protects children by protecting their health. Blowing your stinking smoke into the intake air of a child is a huge betrayal of adult responsibility.

      • Joseph Freitas

        I don’t smoke, Nor do in have kids. All I am saying is the fine doesn’t do anything to protect children. I am arguing the fine imposes undue hardship on the children. The threat of a fine is not going to stop people from doing it. Speeding comes with a fine and people do it whenever they can an get away with it. Thats my point. If you want the government to protect everyone’s children they would need to snatch them all up and raise them. Then fine leaves less money for a family who statisticly is probably already in the working poor category.

        • Steve Dristy

          my point exactly – see the above post

      • josh

        And all the chemicals the goverment puts in the air are just great for them huh? Their not their kids or yours so dont worry about it. Its just another way for the goverment to control us and legally rob us. If they really wanted to help they would ban smoking all together but then they would lose all the tax money on cigarettes. Cant do that. This why they rob you twice. Whats next parents being fined for giving kids candy because it may lead to diabetes?

  • Kent

    Way overdue and it should be a primary offense and not just in cars but anywhere children are present. Endangering the health or welfare of any child (or anyone for that matter), anywhere, anytime, anyplace it not only a huge betrayal of an adult to another but an infringement on their rights and an overstep for the perpetrator.

  • Joseph Freitas

    lol alot of you guys act like if you breath some second hand smoke in you die 5 minutes later. Really my parents smoked in the house, in the car, everywhere around my sisters and I. Guess what? We have no COPD, no Asthma, no lung cancer. Perhaps most of you are over reacting just a little bit? Perhaps you feel the need to want to tell other people how raise thier kids? How about you worry about your own shit and not try to tell everyone else what to do because you have some bias towards something you don’t like…
    I mean really, I hate candy, but you don’t see trying to pass laws to be able to smack the candy out of a kid’s mouth and fine the parents for giving to them.

  • ManoaHi

    At first, this seems like a good law, but upon further reflection, it is a bad idea/law. First, disclosure, I smoke and I have children. i would not be affected by the law because I don’t allow smoking in my car. I’ve been in smoker friends cars and the smell is everywhere, comes out from the air conditioner, and the interior of the car smells bad. I’ve had a “no smoking” policy in my car even when I was single. I’ve also threatened to kick my grandmother out of my car if she lit up (also, same applied for seat belts long before seat-belt laws came in to effect). I don’t think it would raise a lot of money, and those complaining about less money for the children based on the fine, is lame. Quit smoking and you’ll have a lot more money, and you won’t get fined. I’ve just reviewed the constitution’s’bill of rights and the additional amendments. Right to smoke is not there.

    So, why am I against this law:
    1. Safety of you, your passengers, other vehicles. What? you say. If you live in a state or region where smoking in a car with children and you see a police officer, there are those who would put the cigarette out and that distraction from driving is dangerous (the same was the reason behind, using a phone while driving.
    2. Although a slippery slope fallacy, where does it stop? Regulation/law after regulation/law limiting our personal freedom. I’m sorry, the government does not bear the responsibility to protect me from myself. We have way too many regulations already.

    The post by someone, was interesting, why are children not protected from poor eating habits? No one in my family is obese, not even overweight, everyone is slender. But you see these severly obese parents taking their obese children to fast food establishments.