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News Summary

Bill targets smokers with children

Publication Date: 6/29/2006
  • Author:Edwin Garcia
  • Publication:Contra Costa (CA) Times

Should it be illegal for parents to smoke in the car while their children are in the back seat?

One day after the U.S. Surgeon General released the most damning study yet on secondhand smoke, a California Senate committee approved a bill Wednesday that would allow police to stop drivers guilty of puffing in the confines of their car when a child passenger is secured in a safety seat.

If the measure becomes law, violators who smoke a "lighted pipe, cigar or cigarette containing tobacco or any other plant" would receive a warning on the first offense, and a $100 fine the next time they are pulled over.

Under the bill, a smoker could be found guilty even if the car is parked or on private property. It would not, however, apply if the child were at least 6 years old -- old enough to legally not have to be in a safety seat.

"There's no excuse in today's society for any mother of any age, or any level of education, to do something which I consider akin to child abuse," said Sen. Deborah Ortiz, D-Sacramento, chair of the Senate Health Committee, which approved the measure.

AB379, introduced by Assemblyman Paul Koretz, D-West Hollywood, previously passed the Assembly on a 49-30 vote and still needs to be approved by the full Senate and signed by the governor.