Smokers have been pushed out of commercial airplanes, restaurants and public building, but in Oregon they are on the verge of being pushed out of their own cars if they are accompanied by children.
The Oregon House Monday overwhelming passed a bill that makes it illegal for smokers to take a puff with kids in the vehicle. The bill is now headed for Gov. John Kitzhaber desk for his signature.
Opponents called it another "nanny state" provision that may have little to no effect. The bill would allow police to ticket smokers if they were pulled over for another offense. The violation would cost $250 for the first offense and $500 for subsequent offenses.
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State Rep. Jim Thompson said the legislation was another way to address the trouble of exposure to second-hand smoke.
“This is a bill whose time has come,” Thompson told The Oregonian. “We clearly know the effects of second-hand smoke on health. It is, however, legal to strap your kids in the back of a car and smoke them like bacon.”
State Rep. Jeff Barker because the bill made the offense a secondary offense, meaning police would not be able to pull over a motorist if the officer saw the driver smoking with a kid present. He said many police departments urge officers to issue one ticket per traffic stop.
“If this is that important, it shouldn’t be a secondary offense," Barker said. "It should be a primary offense.”
State Sen. Bruch Starr said the bill could start a chain of legislation targeting behavior, pointing to New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg's attempt to ban large soft drinks.
“What about the Super Big Gulp? What about the trips through the McDonald’s drive through?” Starr asked.
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Another state senator, Jeff Kruse, was more direct: "How dare the government tell me what I can do in my car," said Kruse.
Arkansas, California, Louisiana and Maine have enacted similar legislation, along with several cities and counties around the country, according to Global Advisers on Smoke-free Policy, and advocacy group.
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