Effort To Ban Smoking in Vehicles With Young Children Revived
Supporters of a bill (AB 2997) that would require motorists to pay fines for smoking in vehicles with young children present have revived the measure after it was defeated last month, the AP/Contra Costa Times reports (Lawrence, AP/Contra Costa Times, 6/16). 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 enforcement easier for police. 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. However, the measure was defeated by an Assembly vote of 36-30, with 14 abstentions; 41 votes were needed to approve the bill (California Healthline, 5/28).
In an effort to revive the legislation, Firebaugh "took over" another lawmaker's bill that had passed the Assembly as a child care measure and added a revised version of his bill to it as an amendment, the AP/Times reports. Firebaugh's revised bill would take effect Jan. 1, 2006 -- not Jan. 1, 2005, as originally proposed -- and would require that any fines generated by the measure be used for public education programs about the effects of secondhand smoke. The Senate Health and Human Services Committee is scheduled to consider the amended bill Wednesday. If the full Senate approves the bill, it would return to the Assembly for another vote. Firebaugh said, "I'm not trying to end smoking altogether here," adding, "I recognize that it is a legal product and some adults will choose to smoke. I suppose that's their business, but if they smoke and visit the ill effects on their children then that's all of our business" (AP/Contra Costa Times, 6/16).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.