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Opening Arguments

Smoking in cars

As recently as last year, the conventional wisdom was that a statewide smoking ban would never fly in Indiana. But I think the mood of the legislature has shifted -- if a ban isn't taken up this year, the only reason will be that it's a short sesssion and property taxes are such a pressing concern. And there is this, House Bill 1056:

Smoking in passenger vehicles. Provides a $25 penalty for a person who smokes in a passenger motor vehicle while a minor who is less than 13 years of age is in the vehicle. Prohibits stopping, inspecting, or detaining a person solely to determine compliance. Provides that the penalty for a subsequent violation is $100. Deposits penalties into the tobacco use prevention and cessation trust fund.

Via Tinnel Vision, a blog by IPFW student Kody Tinnel, who says that he is strongly against public smoking bans that don't allow businesses to cater to their customers but that he can support this idea because smoking with a child in the car is "a mild form of child abuse."

There is a logic to that position. We allow consenting adults to do all sorts of things things we shield children from. If secondhand smoke is a danger, we can volunteer to be exposed to it. Children usually have no say about whether to ride in their parents' cars.

But "in a car" is not the only way children can be exposed to secondhand smoe, merely the most publicly visible way. Accepting this bill means being receptive to the idea of banning smoking in the home if children are present, and fining women who smoke when they are pregnant. How far down that road do we want to go? I realize I'm making a slippery-slope argument here, but the slope seems to get very slippery whenever it's "for the children."

My experience may not be typical, but most of the smokers I know who have children have long since relegated themselves to the front porch when they indulge.  


Larry Morris
Mon, 01/07/2008 - 12:36pm

Not to mix civil liberties opponents in the same pot, but, ... the next thing you know we won't be able to carry a gun in a car if there's a "child on board", ... slippery slope indeed.

Bob G.
Mon, 01/07/2008 - 4:01pm

I'm getting used to those slippery slopes...that's why I wear GOLF SHOES...LOL!

btw, that's a good idea...a "gun on board" sign, RIGHT NEXT to the "child on board" sign (which is below the "irate driver on board" sign).



Mon, 01/07/2008 - 4:50pm

Sheesh, we might as well criminalize the exposure of children to all things noxious. Let's start with fundamentalist Christianity.

tim zank
Mon, 01/07/2008 - 8:13pm

Leo sez: "My experience may not be typical, but most of the smokers I know who have children have long since relegated themselves to the front porch when they indulge."

I don't think your experience is atypical. I smoke outside, not in the house, I don't smoke in the car when anyone is with me. I think I'm indicative of a lot, if not most smokers. We're polite about it.

As for parents that DO smoke in the car with their kids, are they stupid? Well yes, they are. Can you fix stupid? Well, no.
Is it child abuse, well no. Somehow all of us that grew up in the 50's, 60's and 70's didn't develop lung cancer from our folks smoking in cars and around the house.

Now let's think common sense for a moment. If the damage from 2nd hand smoke were even remotely close to what is claimed there would simply be sh%tloads upon sh%tloads of deaths. There would be no controversy, because the bodies would be proof. Is 2nd hand smoke healthy, well no of course not. Does it kill people, well no it doesn't. It's an irritant plain and simple like fumes from a car or a bus or a hundred other irritants.

I guess it's our belief now the Government has a responsibility to actually control all the various aspects of parenting, for the good of the children. It's for the children!!!!!! Hallelujah!

Well, I hate to be cranky, but if you think the last generation is a bunch of whiners and spoiled brats, wait until Uncle Sam get's done raising this generation of pu$$ies. Kind of makes me picture a kid in a bubble with a helmet on, wearing safety goggles, knee pads, mouth guard, earplugs, velcro tie shoes, and a filter over his mouth.

Those of you that believe the slippery slope argument isn't real, just look around. We don't need parents anymore. We've got city councils and legislators to do it!

Kody Tinnel
Mon, 01/07/2008 - 9:36pm

Thanks for bringing even more information to the table on this discussion.

When I made this post I knew it would bring up some slippery slope arguments, some of which I can completely understand.

I don't think the argument of banning guns in cars where children are really equates to the issue of secondhand smoke. If anything a child is more safe when a car is in a vehicle, given that the operator of the gun is properly trained and proper locks are put on the gun when not in use.

I also understand that my stance on this issue goes against the normal views I generally hold.

I can say that I am not the type of person that uses children as an excuse to make a law, unless that law limits direct physical harm to children.

Of course this then brings up the issue of how harmful secondhand smoke is, if harmful at all. I believe that it is harmful, however it is not as bad the anti smoking extremists want us to think.

A popular argument is that if we are to make a law enforcing this same general rule in one's private home we would be getting rid of privacy. This is why I do not support making this same law for homes. In most homes there is better circulation and more room to breathe cleaner air than in a vehicle, even the ridiculously large SUVs.

Again I appreciate you bringing even more people into this discussion.

Leo Morris
Mon, 01/07/2008 - 10:29pm

Here's a relevant post from today on Reason magazine's Hit & Run blog ( http://www.reason.com/blog/show/124262.html ):
". . .epidemiological studies generally do not find an association between childhood exposure to secondhand smoke and lung cancer. Instead they indicate higher incidences of earaches and respiratory infections among children of smokers."

Larry Morris
Mon, 01/07/2008 - 10:50pm

gee, ... can anyone say facetious.

tim zank
Tue, 01/08/2008 - 9:42am

How many "citations" before someone see's a pattern and notifies child protective services? It won't be too long (2 or 3)before you are before a judge for endangering the welfare of a child.

Is it just me, or does anybody else see where this is ultimately going to end up?

If your kid shows up at school and a teacher notices an "odor" of cigarette smoke, are they obligated to inform the authorities there could be a case of "smoking in car with a child"??

Bob G.
Tue, 01/08/2008 - 10:04am

We CAN fix STUPID....they're called LAWS.
(or a 2x4 to the head...either one will work, but one of them takes a bit longer)
And you forgot to add SCHOOLS to the short list of surrogate parents (along with city councils & legislators).

You're right on target with this generation and the feline/human female reproductive analogy. Each generation is getting a bit worse, and to fix ONE generation...it's going to take at least THREE to reverse the trend.

Glad we won't be around to see THAT mess.