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Lawmakers seek to ban smoking in cars with children

Publication Date: 2012-01-12
  • Author:Stephanie Kim
  • Publication:The Seattle Times

Lawmakers are trying again to prohibit smoking in cars while children are present.

Senate Bill 5016 was introduced last session by the late Sen. Scott White and was reintroduced this week.

Under the bill, smoking in a vehicle while anyone under 18 years old is present would be a secondary traffic infraction. That means police could cite violators only after pulling them over for some other reason, such as speeding.

A similar bill was introduced in the Senate in 2008, but it also didn't pass

White, the prime sponsor of SB 5016 last year, died in October of a cardiac arrest. Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, said she plans to push forward White’s bill this year.

“We already know secondhand smoke is harmful,” she said. “I believe that we should do everything we can do conserve children’s health.”

If the bill passes, Washington would join four other states that prohibit smoking in cars when minors are present: California, Louisiana, Arkansas and Maine.

Under the current bill, only verbal warnings may be issued for the first six months.

Voters passed Initiative 901 in 2005 that banned smoking in public places.