Senate Committee Passes Bill To Ban Smoking in Vehicles With Young Children Present
The Senate Health and Human Services Committee on Wednesday voted 9-2 to approve a bill (AB 1569) that would fine motorists for smoking in vehicles with young children present, the AP/Contra Costa Times reports (Lawrence, AP/Contra Costa Times, 6/17). The original measure (AB 2997) was defeated in May by an Assembly vote of 36-30, with 14 abstentions; 41 votes were needed to approve the bill. However, the bill's sponsor, Assembly member Marco Firebaugh (D-South Gate), revived the measure by attaching a revised version as an amendment to a bill that had passed the Assembly as a child-care measure. Like the original bill, the revised measure would prohibit smoking a pipe, cigar or cigarette 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. However, the 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 (California Healthline, 6/16). In addition, the revised bill would require law enforcement officers to issue only a warning for a first offense, with subsequent violations resulting in a $25 fine, although other assessments and enhancements could cause the fine to reach as much as $116 (AP/Contra Costa Times, 6/17).
"We wanted to make sure that the most vulnerable were protected," Firebaugh said. Sen. Deborah Ortiz (D-Sacramento), who co-wrote the revised bill, said, "It's time to take a stand and protect children beyond what their parents are willing to do" (Banks, Los Angeles Times, 6/17). The revised bill now moves to the Senate Appropriations Committee for consideration. If the bill passes the full Senate, it would return to the Assembly for a vote (AP/Contra Costa Times, 6/17).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.