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News Summary

Lawmakers making another attempt at prohibiting smoking in cars with children

Publication Date: 2012-09-19
  • Author:Wendy Leonard
  • Publication:Deseret News

...He encouraged lawmakers to support legislation that would prohibit adults from smoking in a vehicle when a child under age 15 is present.

"We are essentially forcing a child to smoke when it is actually illegal for a child to smoke," said Rep. Patrice Arent, D-Salt Lake City, who is sponsoring the draft bill for a second time. HB89 failed to reach a final vote during the 2011 Legislature.

Lawmakers have attempted to pass similar legislation three times in the past, only to be turned away by those who favor parental rights.

Rep. Brad Daw, R-Orem, said he opposes the proposed bill because it "interferes with people's lives" and individual choice.

"Smoking is still a legal activity," Daw said. "It's a filthy habit, and I don't want to be around anyone who smokes, and I certainly don't want them near my children, but it's their right."

Car seats faced the same type of opposition when state leaders first attempted to make using them a law, said Dr. Tom Metcalf, a retired pediatrician and former Utah lawmaker.

"The health of children trumped ideology," Metcalf said, adding that when the law finally passed in 1982, it established only minimal penalties for misuse.

"What the law really did was educate people," he said...

The draft legislation, which would modify the Motor Vehicle Code to make smoking in a vehicle with a child present a secondary offense, punishable by a maximum fine of $45, passed favorably out of the committee, with the only dissenting vote coming from Daw.

Arent, who was exposed to secondhand smoke as a child, said laws are intended to protect people....