Proposed ban on smoking in some vehicles sparks controversy

Proposed ban on smoking in some vehicles sparks controversy
City Council voted to raise the age of purchasing tobacco products (Source: WOIO)

Ohio Senator Charleta Tavares wants to make smoking while driving with kids in the car illegal.

"Senate Bill 89 would prohibit smoking in the car with a child that is 6 or under," she explained.

The law would be a primary offense, which means law enforcement could pull a smoker over without any other reason and fine them $500 if a child under 6 is in the car.

"What we are really looking at are children who have no ability to control their environment," said the Columbus Senator. "Children under 6 can't protest, cannot verbalize why they do not want to get in the car."

According to a Surgeon General's report, secondhand smoke causes disease including cancer.

The level of toxic air in a vehicle, when someone is smoking, is up to ten times greater than the level which the Environmental Protection Agency considers hazardous.

We spoke with several Clevelanders about Tavares' suggestion.

They all agreed childrens' health is of paramount importance, but several people had issues with government stepping into their private lives.

"The government is always telling you what to do," Mark Chamberlain said. "You got to wear a helmet. You got to wear a seat belt. You can't do anything
you want to do."

"You are going to tell us where we can and cannot smoke? Next it will be in our homes," Jacqueline Jett said.

This is not the first time Tavares has presented her idea to the state senate.

Tavares successfully pushed for a ban on smoking in public places in Columbus while she was on the city council there in 2004, two years before a statewide ban became law.

Right now, the bill is in the Health and Human Services Committee.

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