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Ebbin, Puller Vote for Ban on Smoking in Car With Kids

Virginia Senate bill prohibits smoking in a vehicle when carrying kids aged 15 or younger.

By Paige Baxter, Capital News Service

The Senate today passed a bill to prohibit smoking in a vehicle when a child under 15 is present.

Senators voted 30-10 for the bill, which now goes to the House of Delegates for consideration. All Democrats — including Vienna's senators Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax City) and Janet Howell (D-Reston) — supported the bill, along with half of the Senate Republicans.

Under Senate Bill 975, proposed by Sen. Ralph Northam (D-Virginia Beach and Norfolk), people who violate the proposed law would face a civil penalty of $100.

On the floor of the Senate, Northam said the legislation was inspired by a third-grader who told Northam his parents smoke in the car with him.

“It will protect our children and improve their health and in the end hopefully cut down on health care costs,” Northam said.

Northam’s bill is one of three smoking bans still making their way through the General Assembly.

A House bill, HB 2309, would ban smoking in health care facilities. It is awaiting a vote in the House General Laws Committee.

Another bill in the Senate, SB 1253, would give local governments the authority to ban smoking in public areas such as parks and beaches. The Senate Local Government Committee approved this proposal, 11-4; it is now before the full Senate.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors directed its attorney this winter to look into the legality of smoking bans on county property, required courses that would encourage quitting and the consideration of tobacco use in a person’s hiring.

The board would need General Assembly authority to enact the first, its lawyer said; the county can mandate smoking cessation classes for county employees but it cannot require them to "pass" the class or quit smoking.

In 2009, the Board succeeded in banning smoking under bus shelters, but extending that ban to parks and school areas would require the state to sign off as well.

How They Voted

Here is how senators voted on SB 975 on third reading. The bill passed, 30-10.

YEAS – Alexander, Barker, Blevins, Colgan, Deeds, Ebbin, Edwards, Favola, Hanger, Herring, Howell, Locke, Lucas, Marsden, Marsh, McEachin, McWaters, Miller, Newman, Norment, Northam, Petersen, Puckett, Puller, Reeves, Saslaw, Stosch, Stuart, Vogel, Watkins – 30.

NAYS – Black, Carrico, Garrett, Martin, McDougle, Obenshain, Ruff, Smith, Stanley, Wagner – 10.

Patch Editor William Callahan reported for this story.

Thomas Laprade February 02, 2013 at 08:18 AM
Where is the protection of kids over the age of 16.. ?? http://tctactics.org http://thetruthis aliesialie
Jonik February 02, 2013 at 05:33 PM
Have any doctors or safety experts provided input into this idea to ban smoking in cars? Legislators have ignored or are unaware of the dangers of driving while going through Cold Turkey withdrawal from smoking. Some effects are irritation (road rage?), distraction, appetite increase, and sleepiness (sometimes without warning). Also, it's likely that many will do all sorts of distracting tricks to hide the cigarette if a police car is near. Smoking produces alertness...a good thing when driving. It reduces stress (less chance of road rage). It reduces appetite to perhaps minimize distracting eating while driving, it fends off sleepiness, and it provides a pleasant change from the monotony of driving, especially on long trips. Has even one young car passenger been diagnosed as having been harmed by smoke in a car? If not, there is no health justification for such bans. When a driver, experiencing Withdrawal Symptoms, creates an accident, will police note that the smoke ban was contributor? Or will legislators immunize themselves from responsibility by blaming the driver? Have civil rights groups weighed in about how this law provides yet another pretense for police to stop and search motorists, even if they just have a lollypop in their mouth ("probable cause") or a passenger who "looks" "under age"? Do young people now need to carry ID to prove they are old enough to handle 2nd hand smoke? Search up "Fauxbacco" to see what else legislators ignore.
Thomas Laprade February 02, 2013 at 09:17 PM
Parents know best, While I appreciate the desire to protect children from second-hand smoke exposure in cars, I'm afraid that the suggestion to ban smoking in cars occupied by children represents an unwarranted intrusion into the privacy and autonomy of parenthood. The autonomy to make one's own decision about what risks to subject a child to is not to be interfered with lightly. It should only be done in cases where there is a substantial threat of severe harm to the child. Interfering with parental autonomy in a case where there is only minor risk involved is unwarranted.

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