Assembly Votes To Reject Bill To Ban Smoking in Vehicles With Young Children
The Assembly on Thursday voted to reject a bill (AB 2997) that would have required motorists to pay fines for smoking in vehicles with young children present, the AP/Contra Costa Times reports (Lawrence, AP/Contra Costa Times, 5/28). The bill, sponsored by Assembly member Marco Firebaugh (D-South Gate), would have prohibited smoking a pipe, cigar or cigarette in a vehicle in which a child was present. Initially, the legislation would have made it illegal to smoke in a vehicle with a passenger younger than age 18, but it was amended to make it easier for police to enforce. As amended, the bill would prohibit smoking in vehicles with a child who is required to ride in a protective seat -- anyone younger than age six or who weighs less than 60 pounds. Anyone violating the law would be subject to a $25 fine for the first offense and as much as $116 for repeat offenses (California Healthline, 5/6). The measure was defeated by a vote of 36-30, with 14 abstentions. Forty-one votes were needed to approve the bill (Benson, Sacramento Bee, 5/28).
"Our failure to act means kids will suffer," Firebaugh said (Sweeney, Copley/San Diego Union-Tribune, 5/28). He added, "Do we protect the comfort and convenience of smokers who want to smoke everywhere and anywhere, regardless of the consequence?" Assembly member Ray Haynes (R-Temecula) said that "intrusive government is more destructive than anything private individuals do" (Hubbell, San Francisco Chronicle, 5/28). Assembly member Keith Richman (R-Granada Hills), a physician, said that while secondhand smoke is dangerous, he voted against the measure because it represents an "intrusion of government into people's private lives" (Sacramento Bee, 5/28). "Are we next going to restrict smoking in garages ... in homes?" he asked. Jamie Drogin, a spokesperson for Philip Morris USA, said, "We do believe that adults should not smoke around children. However, it's a matter of private conduct, and we do not believe it should be legislated" (Copley/San Diego Union-Tribune, 5/28).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.