New Law Bans Smoking in Car with Kids: But should it?

by James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H.

All current medical evidence points to it being unhealthy to inhale secondhand smoke, especially for children. It can lead to respiratory and ear problems to name a few. The more enclosed the space, the worse it can be. Everyone should be aware of this, and take precautions. It is irresponsible to expose children to this.

I hate smoking and being around smoking. I think it is horrible for your health, and a stupid thing to do. But should governments force the issue by making it illegal?

High healthcare costs are a big deal. Smoking, unhealthy eating and lack of exercise tend to lead to poor health, and increased health costs which is distributed to all by higher insurance rates. Why not just ban smoking altogether? Should the government tell us what to eat also? What about our own responsiblities for our health?

Certainly California is leading the way to protect the innocent children with secondhand smoking, and spanking laws. Should not parents be taking on these responsibilities?

What do you think? What are your comments?

SACRAMENTO, Calif., Dec. 24 (AScribe Newswire) –
California’s new “Smoke-Free Cars with Minors” law takes effect on January 1, giving California the most comprehensive smoke-free car law in the nation, and providing smokers another reason to make a successful New Year’s Resolution to kick the habit.

The California legislature passed the law in response to compelling scientific evidence that smoking in cars exposes passengers, especially children, to high levels of toxic
secondhand smoke. The law prohibits smoking in a motor vehicle (stationary or moving) in which a youth under the age of 18 is present. A violation is punishable by a fine of
up to $100 and categorized as a secondary offense, meaning an officer may not pull over a vehicle for the sole purpose of checking if someone is smoking with a minor present.

According to the 2006 Surgeon General’s Report, there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke. Peak levels of secondhand smoke from smoking in a car can be up to 10 times greater than the level which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers hazardous, according to a study recently published by a team of environmental scientists from Stanford University.

“Passengers, especially youth, are exposed to dangerous
levels of toxic air contaminants when someone is smoking in a car,” said Paul Knepprath, vice president, government relations for the American Lung Association of California. “Fortunately California leads the world in creating healthier, smoke-free environments for its citizens, and we are pleased that California youth will benefit from this vital new health protection.”

Health advocates believe that the new law will result in fewer cigarettes being smoked in cars and fewer cigarette butts being tossed. If so, cigarette litter will be reduced
and the risk of wildfires diminished.

While smoking has declined dramatically in California, there are still four million people in the state who smoke. Now is the time for a New Year’s Resolution to quit smoking. For people who want to quit smoking, the American Lung Association offers free online support through its “Freedom From Smoking” program at or by calling 800.LUNG.USA and choosing option “2″ to reach the American Lung Association’s free HelpLine staffed by registered nurses and respiratory therapists.

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