Aims To Limit Secondhand Exposure
Assemblyman David Weprin and State Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky hosted a press conference at City Hall on Sunday, Feb. 12, advocating for passage of their bill which would prohibit smoking in private passenger cars, vans or trucks when minors less than 14 years of age are present.
Those found smoking in a vehicle with a child would be fined up to $100 by a law enforcement officer.
“It is of utmost importance to protect our children, whose bodies are still developing and who often do not have a voice of their own,” stated Weprin, who sponsors the bill (A.7285B/S.3082B) in the Assembly.
“[The legislation] extends The Clean Indoor Act to motor vehicles. In the same way that restaurant employees and patrons alike were forced to breathe second hand smoke, children are being forced to breathe unhealthy air in cars. They do not have the option of leaving,” said Stavisky. “In New York, we regulate conduct within a motor vehicle by providing protections for both children and drivers. We mandate the use of car seats and seat belts in private automobiles. This bill is only an extension of those protections. It will help children breathe clean air while they are riding in automobiles. There is no constitutional right to smoke. It is not a protected activity.”
“Every year nearly 300,000 children suffer from respiratory tract infections because of exposure to secondhand spoke,” said Assemblyman Michael Simanowitz. “It is essential that we take the next step in creating smoke free environments where children can breathe clean air. We have already eliminated smoking from other spaces including where we work, restaurants, taxis, vans, buses and trains. While adults are capable of objecting to other adults smoking in a vehicle, children are not always able to insist. This bill would give them that voice.”
Last week, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) released a study showing that almost one in five high school and middle school students ride in cars while other individuals are smoking.
Exposure to secondhand smoke as a child has been linked to an increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), severe respiratory infections, such as bronchitis and pneumonia, an increased number of asthma attacks, and ear infections.
Smoking by parents causes breathing problems and slows lung growth in their children.
“Our goal is to increase awareness about the dangers of second hand smoke. The Center for Disease Control’s recent report is an eye opening study of how smoking in cars deeply impacts our children’s health and growth,” stated Weprin.
Four other states, including Arkansas, California, Louisiana and Maine and Puerto Rico have passed similar legislation that would protect children from the dangers of secondhand smoke.