‘No smoking’ in your own car

Under a bill introduced in California, parents could be fined for smoking in their own cars in the presence of young children.

One day after the U.S. Surgeon General released the most damning study yet on secondhand smoke, a state 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.

I don’t smoke. I hated all the smoke I inhaled as a kid being driven around by my mother. But there are limits to the government’s ability to enforce good parenting choices. Next they’ll ban smoking in your own home, then letting your children eat marshmallow fluff.

About Joanne

Comments

  1. BadaBing says:

    If the statists prevail, we’re all going to live forever.

  2. Prof210 says:

    That horse has already left the barn. You can be penalized for your child not wearing seat belts and for hitting your child. The steepness of the slippery slope from those to penalizing a parent for exposing her child to smoke or foods which are likely to harm it is not very great.

  3. Mike in Texas says:

    I can’t begin to tell you how many times I have opened a car door at car rider duty and seen a wall of smoke roll out. Or kids who smell like they smoke a pack a day.

    The govt. should also ban blaring your car stereo so loud that it can damage your child’s hearing also.

  4. Next the nanny-state will have all car occupants wear Indy-style crash helmets because that will, obviously, save lives.

  5. Walter E. Wallis says:

    I read somewhere that having auto riders wear helmets would save far more lives than having bikers wear them. It is time for the mobs to set up Smoke-easys to indulge the illicite.

  6. It’s really unbelievable that parents can deny their children certain types of medical care for religious reasons but they would not be allowed to smoke in thier car. Perhaps California is over-reaching?

    Andy Pass
    http://www.Pass-Ed.com/blogger.html

  7. Robert Wright says:

    Most people buckle up today because they know it’s stupid not to do so. It didn’t always used to be that way.

    The law requiring seat belts helped raise consciousness.

    Second hand smoke is much more harmful than previously believed. The law banning smoking in a car seems like a governmental intrusion right now but soon it will seem like common sense.

    Subjecting children to second hand smoke isn’t a parenting choice. It’s negligence.

    Public service annnouncements do only so much good.

  8. Wayne Martin says:

    > I read somewhere that having auto riders wear
    > helmets would save far more lives than having
    > bikers wear them

    Possibly. In California, for 2003, the CHP stats show:

    Total killed in car accidents: 2387
    Total killed riding bikes: 108

  9. Foobarista says:

    The question shouldn’t be “is it a dumb idea”. The question should be “is it a matter of State police power”? After all, we’re well along the road to a hell where _everything_ that some do-gooder can define as harmful for children in some way or another can result in criminal action against the parents – and frankly in putting the children in a far worse situation than the initial offense.

    Birthday cake? Causes obesity: send the kids to a foster home and throw the “abusive” parents in the klink. Don’t have a air-conditioner in the car and drive with the kids on a hot day? Causes an increase in cancer-causing chemicals and endangers the kid – better off making the kid a Ward of the State. And *gasp* if you smoke anywhere within a mile of your kids, it’s the guillotine for you!

  10. Robert Wright says:

    So, I imagine you libertarians would favor repealling the seatbelt law, the motorcycle helmet law and the ban on cigarrette and alcohol advertising on TV?

    If only the parents who bought lawn darts were the ones injured by then I’d say bring them to Toys R Us and let freedom ring.

  11. “So, I imagine you libertarians would favor repealling the seatbelt law, the motorcycle helmet law and the ban on cigarrette and alcohol advertising on TV?”

    No, I am in favor of personal responsibility and, as others have pointed out, where does all of this end? A felony conviction for allowing your kids to each french fries? Having worked in both the private and public sectors, I’ve seen nothing about the workings of government that remotely suggests that bureaucrats and politicians know what’s best for the individual. Rather, these groups thrive on the exercise of power and consider the public terminally stupid so as to justify their paternalistic idiocy. Of course, if this stupidity exists, it MAY have something to do with the quality of education coming from our government schools.

  12. Robert Wright wrote:

    Second hand smoke is much more harmful than previously believed.

    Source?

    From what I’ve read the scientific case for second-hand smoke toxicity is pretty slim consisting, as it does, of statistical studies of dubious quality. Common sense also suggests strongly that second-hand smoke isn’t anywhere near as dangerous as first-hand smoke yet the medical consequences of smoking doesn’t show up for decades and even then it’s a statistical association.

  13. Robert Wright says:

    One source:

    Bush’s Surgeon General, Richard Carmona.

    He issued a forceful report on second hand smoke earlier in the week and stated it’s imperative that children especially be protected.

    “The scientific evidence is now indisputable: second-hand smoke is not a mere annoyance. It is a serious health hazard that can lead to disease and premature death in children and nonsmoking adults.”

    Another source:

    The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    They found that second-hand smoke caused the death each year in the United States of 3,000 people from lung cancer, 46,000 from heart disease and 430 newborns from sudden infant death syndrome.

    “Smoking by parents causes respiratory symptoms and slows lung growth in their children. The scientific evidence indicates that there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke.”

  14. BadaBing says:

    Second hand smoke is much more harmful than previously believed.

    There is no scientific evidence connecting second-hand smoke to health problems, but there is plenty of junk science that liberals can cite as gospel truth. It’s just another smoke screen. Speaking of smoke, liberals like to hide behind second-hand smoke screens when dictating their rules to the uneducated peasant rabble over which they ride herd. Another smoke screen they love to hide behind is, “We’re doing it for the children.” Yes, liberals really care a lot about children, namely, your children, since liberals don’t produce that many offspring. By the by, fetuses don’t count as children. For them, the hammer falls without mercy.

  15. Robert Wright says:

    Bush appointed a liberal for his Surgeon General?

  16. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Some more lying science in a good cause, like nuclear winter [to discourage nuclear war], the coming ice age [to discourage consumerism and encourage government regulation of lifestyles] and global warming [to discourage consumerism and encourage government regulation of lifestyles]

  17. Second hand smoke is much more harmful than previously believed.

    Reminds me of the Andrew Dice Clay bit, where he’s puffing away at a crowded cocktail party surrounded by people giving him dirty looks and fanning the air in front of their faces. Finally a woman approaches him and says, “Don’t you know that second hand smoke is deadly?”

    “H-e-y-y, it looks like I made the right choice!”

  18. Robert –

    You’ve hit a thorny issue for libertarianism. The system works well and good when we’re just talking about responsible adults, e.g., a law banning smoking in a car simply because it harmed the smoker is a clear misuse of state power, but when kids become involved it gets a little thornier. It is a parent’s responsibility to nurture and protect a child, and what role government should have in enforcing that responsibility is unclear. It can range in the view of some libertarians that government has no role, while many on the left believe that government is tasked with making sure that parents make the right decisions.

    My own personal belief is that the laws regarding parenting should be rather simpler, (and yes, I’m a libertarian,) something along the lines of: parents will not cause their children physical or mental harm, nor will they deny them an education or the basic necessities for life, i.e. food, shelter, and clothing. If a doctor can prove that a child was harmed, the parent is responsible. If the kid is being kept at home and not educated, the parent is responsible. This concept, however, takes responsible judges and law enforcement who use their discretion appropriately to execute, so it may not be realistic.

    That said, laws like this, which micromanage behavior, don’t contribute to responsible parenting. In fact, I believe they contribute to exactly the opposite mentality, whatever’s not illegal is OK.

    By the way, a motorcycle helmet law for adults is absolutely an abuse of state power. It is NOT, nor should it ever be, government’s job to protect an adult from himself.

  19. Wayne Martin says:

    > By the way, a motorcycle helmet law for
    > adults is absolutely an abuse of state power.
    > It is NOT, nor should it ever be, government’s
    > job to protect an adult from himself.

    This is a good theory, but what happens when someone without a helmet is injured and can not pay? Insurance may not be sufficient to cover the medical costs, which all too frequently are picked up by the taxpayer. In this cade, government is protecting the taxpayer from the motorcyclist.

  20. Wayne Martin says:

    > From what I’ve read the scientific case for
    > second-hand smoke toxicity is pretty slim
    > consisting, as it does, of statistical studies
    > of dubious quality.

    I agree. I read the original report, some twenty years ago, and couldn’t believe that it had been advanced into the public square as proof of anything.

    The most recent study is over 700 pages, and probably deserves at least a review:

    http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/secondhandsmoke/

    We have to remember, that statistical projections are the source of the numbers of “deaths” attributed to second-hand smoke.

    I personally appreciate smoke-free environments, but I enjoy solid science more.

  21. “The law banning smoking in a car seems like a governmental intrusion right now but soon it will seem like common sense.”

    Of course. And Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia.

  22. Richard Nieporent says:

    Dave J,

    LOL. That is the best response of the day!

  23. “This is a good theory, but what happens when someone without a helmet is injured and can not pay? Insurance may not be sufficient to cover the medical costs, which all too frequently are picked up by the taxpayer. In this cade, government is protecting the taxpayer from the motorcyclist.”

    Actually, it’s just government insuring that another one of its abuses of power doesn’t cost too much. Do you really, honestly, think they care about protecting the taxpayer?

  24. Robert, you might want to take a look at the report before you assume it says what you think, and what the Surgeon General wants you to think, it says.

    Start with the subheading:

    There is No Risk-Free Level of Exposure to Secondhand Smoke

    That’s plainly political nonsense. Every toxin has a quantity below which there are no detectable effects. In fact, some “toxins” are necessary for health at a certain level but if you get above that level they become toxic.

    To say that there’s no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke implies that people walking by on the street while someone furtively sucks on a coffin nail in the basement are at risk. Implication is necessary because the idea that there’s no lower limit to the health effects of cigarette smoke suggests, without actually coming out and making the claim, that cigarette smoke is more dangerous then nerve gas since nerve gas does have a toxic threshold. If that were the case Saddam would have planted tobacco instead of manufacturing nerve gas.

    Of course, one very lawyerly way to read that headline is discard the assumption that cigarette smoke, no matter how dilute is still dangerous, and accept the literal interpretation of the sentence: no one has established a defensible level of second-hand smoke below which there’s no risk. That doesn’t mean that there’s no lower limit but that none has been established and that little oversight ought to set your bullshit alarm ringing.

    The rest of the report, as far as I read given the opening, consists of the same, tendentious wordsmithing: implication, innuendo, shading and opinion. Sorry, that’s not science and if it isn’t science it’s someone’s opinion. I don’t need to plow through 700 pages to get one of those.

    Wayne, thanks for the link to the Surgeon General’s report.

  25. Robert Wright says:

    Allen, it was nice to read your intelligent response.

    I wonder what is motivating the Surgeon General?

    Quincy, you state the Libertarian view that it’s not the job of the government to protect an adult from himself. That’s interesting. It’s something to think about.

    I don’t like government intrusion and I see the benefits of choice, especially in education. But if Libertarians had their way, there’d be more young men in the hospital ward where they treat patients with severe head injuries. I’m not sure some freedoms are worth the cost.

  26. Walter E. Wallis says:

    I used to love the smell of burning leaves in the fall, and incense has a long history.
    There is a law that requires valid science whenever a law is proposed based on a scientific assumption. Betcha this would not pass muster.

  27. “But if Libertarians had their way, there’d be more young men in the hospital ward where they treat patients with severe head injuries. I’m not sure some freedoms are worth the cost.”

    Robert –

    You mean more than there already are from people who don’t follow the law anyway? If someone is going to do something stupid, he’s going to do it law or no law. I’d rather see people have to take responsibility for what they do instead of having the nanny state nag them in to doing the right thing and then patch them up anyway if they don’t. The government, as it acts today, encourages people to do more stupid things by continually treating them as children.

    Besides, where does the intrusion stop? Do they ban hot dogs because they’re a choking hazard for kids? Do they check up on how many carbs are in your diet? How far is too far, and how will we know? (Google Sorites’ heap paradox for some interesting thoughts on that.)

  28. Robert Wright says:

    Quincy, you write, “If someone is going to do something stupid, he’s going to do it law or no law.” I respectfully disagree.

    Wearing a seatbeat is now a habit with my wife. She puts in on without thinking. But it took two $50 fines to get her attention.

    And these days I never see a motorcyclest without a helmet. Before the law, less than half wore a helmet.

    Laws work to change habits.

    I remember a time when it was common to see people smoke while shopping in a supermarket. That practice has changed, and not because of an education campaign that made people wiser. Habits changed because of laws.

  29. Robert –

    On my drive today, I saw more than motorcyclist without a helmet, despite the law here in CA, and I’m in the North Bay, where most people actually accept and like the state telling them what to do.

    Besides, how does protecting citizens from themselves square with the fact that, on paper, this is a free society? We’re getting dangerously close to the day when the nanny state can decide you’re too fat and punish you because of it. (BMIs on report cards, anyone?) If we’ve decided that part of government’s job is to protect people from themselves, where do we draw the line? How much protection is too much protection? Which habits are OK to change, which habits aren’t? Who decides? Tough questions, aren’t they?

    The problem is that the state will keep deciding that the people need to be a little safer, and a little healther, and the line will continually creep. What was considered oppressive by many 15 years ago, like banning smoking in restaurants, is now considered an appropriate thing for the state to do.

    We’re on the way down a dangerous road, and our future as adults is already being played out in our schools with the banning of tag and other things at recess.

    You’ve probably heard some one say, “If it were wrong, it’d be illegal,” right? Do you want us to get to the day when people say “If it were dangerous, it’d be illegal,” totally surrendering their judgment in regards to their own safety to the state? That’s where we’re headed.

  30. Wayne Martin says:

    > I remember a time when it was common to see
    > people smoke while shopping in a supermarket.
    > That practice has changed, and not because
    > of an education campaign that made people wiser.

    Taxes on cigarettes are almost $3.00 a pack .. which is making them poorer.

    > Habits changed because of laws.

    Hmmm .. what about a law that would ban the manufacture, sale and consumption of alcohol .. think people would go along with that one?

  31. nailsagainsttheboard says:

    I’m a libertarian on smoking when it comes to adults. However for children….since they are captive and unable to remove themselves from their parents’ idiotic choice to smoke around them…since secondhand smoke is at least a known risk factor for respiratory problems present and future (ie. asthma, COPD, cancer)….since this is a public health issue due to smoke’s pesky tendency to waft around into other captive nonsmokers’ lungs…since we hold parents legally and morally accountable for the safety of their children (i.e don’t leave children in parked cars, don’t starve them, don’t feed them alcohol or illegal drugs)…this appears to be a no-brainer. Mom and Dad–keep your filthy habits– whether smoking, boozing, wild sex or anything else meant for adults only–away from your kids. Adult supervision required.

  32. Andy Freeman says:

    > Bush appointed a liberal for his Surgeon General?

    I thought that all reasonable people agreed that Bush was incompetent.

    Even if you think that Bush is an evil genius, why would he give a damn about the Surgeon General’s position on smoking? And, where would he find someone more to his liking on that issue?

  33. Indigo Warrior says:

    Liberal, conservative … this is hardly a left-right issue. Bush’s Surgeon General, Richard Carmona, also stated that “Marijuana can harm the brain, lungs and mental health. Research also shows that marijuana is addictive.” As expected, he favors an even stronger War Against (some) Drugs – so he’s at least consistent about the dangers of smokable drugs, whether licit or illicit.

    Responsible parents protect their children from real dangers, and are intelligent and scientific enough to know what dangers are real, and take reasonable measures for safety. I’d rather see a moral panic against second-hand smoke or bullying – than one against Pokemon, Harry Potter, Black Sabbath, Playboy, Dungeons and Dragons, hula hoops, TM, and the like.

  34. Robert Wright wrote:

    I wonder what is motivating the Surgeon General?

    A couple of things is my guess.

    First, the new underclass is smokers. Us humans seem to need someone to look down on and when we’re denied the usual outlet of national origin, tribe, religion or race we improvise. During the Vietnam war the military were a bunch of bloodthirsty psychotics some decades earlier the Yellow Peril was going to engulf us all. A decade or so ago gun owners were the designated scapegoat and now smokers have been de-elevated to that state.

    Second, count the number of times you’ve heard of a politician or bureaucrat who complained about having too much power.

    Third, when a frenzy like the current anti-smoking crusade is upon us it takes real courage to stand against it. Not the kind of courage that’s required to speak truth to power, the kind lefties like so much, but the kind of courage that puts something valuable at risk like your job, your career or your professional reputation. It’s just easier and safer to buy into the frenzy then to stand against it, especially for someone with a high public profile.

    Like I wrote above, the whole second-hand smoke issue is nonsense on its face. If inhaling cigarette smoke typically doesn’t generate serious health problems for decades then how likely is it that the tiny volume of smoke that might be inhaled second hand isn’t commensurately dangerous?

    If you get 10% of the smoke second-hand that a smoker gets inhaling shouldn’t you have a similar, or at least lesser, risk? Yet the percentage is much lower then 10% but the health effects, if you read the more hysterical article, seem to exceed the dangers of smoking. What the hell kind of sense does that make?

    As far as I’m concerned those sorts of claims come under the heading of “extraordinary” yet the proof that’s offered is much closer to “fraudulant” then extraordinary.

  35. Walter E. Wallis says:

    If second hand smoke is so hazardous, then all the stats about smoking are bogus.

  36. Robert Wright says:

    Interesting thoughts about attacking the underclass.

  37. Wayne Martin says:

    I wonder how many death certificates carry the “reason of death” to be “second-hand smoke”?