Ohio law against smoking in cars with kids would be weakest in the country

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - It's a purposed law that would make it illegal to smoke in your vehicle with a child in it, but the set age of the child would make it the weakest such law in the country.

Senate Bill 106 says it's illegal to smoke in a car if there's a child in it younger than 6 years old.

Meaning if the child is 6 or younger it would be a $500 ticket if spotted by police.

Seven or older and you're fine, legally.

There are currently eight states with this law already on the books and all have tougher age restrictions than what Ohio proposing according to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids:

  • California       18-years-old
  • Oregon          18-years-old
  • Maine            16-years-old
  • Arkansas       14-years-old
  • Louisiana       13-years-old
  • Vermont          8-years-old
  • Virginia           8-years-old

Of all the research provided by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids none of it shows the effects of second hand smoke (SHS) on kids at different ages.

For example the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), Findings on Health Harms to Kids from SHS Exposure says,"exposure of children to environmental tobacco smoke is associated with increased rates of lower respiratory illness and increased rates of middle ear effusion, asthma, and sudden infant death syndrome."

In 2007 the AAP adopted a resolution encouraging all states to pass smoking in cars legislation with the age restriction of 18.

Smoking in a car makes it even worse for second hand smoke.

"Smoking just one cigarette in a vehicle far exceeded fine particle exposure limits set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and raised secondhand smoke levels several times higher than levels found in smoky bars and restaurants," according to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

Why the age of 6 in Ohio?

Senate Bill 106 was introduced and sponsored by Ohio State Sen. Charleta B. Tavares (D- Columbus).

Cleveland 19 asked Tavares why the age is the lowest in the country and a statement from her office indicates that could change.

"This bill is in very early stages. It received its first hearing in February, and if it receives future hearings, individuals and organizations will be able to come to the Statehouse to weigh in on the bill," the statement said. "That includes making recommendations for changes. I hope this bill gets the attention it deserves in order to protect our kids from the dangers of secondhand smoke."

Senator Tavares also explained where Ohio's bill has teeth is in its fines compared to other states.

"In Maine violators can be fined $50 and in California violators may be fined up to $100. Violators of this bill will be fined $500 for the first offense and $500 plus $250 for each subsequent violation," he said.

Follow Dan DeRoos on Facebook and Twitter. Have a question you want him to answer? Email him at dderoos@woio.com.

Copyright 2018 WOIO. All rights reserved.