January 9, 2007

Illegal to smoke in a car with a child present.

That's now the law in Bangor, Maine. I'm really not going out of my way to find news stories that go with things Matt and I talked about on Bloggingheads yesterday, but the creeping regulation of smoking, into the private sphere, is definitely one of them.

From the first link:
People who smoke with children present in the confined space of a car or truck might as well be deliberately trying to kill those children, said City Councilor Patricia Blanchette, who is a smoker.

"Let's step up to the plate and lead; our children are worth the fight," she said....

Pediatrician Robert Holmberg said the evidence is "incontrovertible" that exposure to cigarette smoke causes medical disorders in children, including asthma, bronchitis, ear infections and heart disease.
Not to mention that thing where Daddy throws the cigarette butt out the window and the wind whips it into the backseat where it lands on your lap. Man, I remember those days.

54 comments:

Cat said...

Good! I agree.

I hate smoking and will only defend smokers rights if they do it in their own homes and on their own property (preferably a large piece of property, say a few acres worth). For example, all the legislation against smoking in public places means when I walk on the streets of NYC, it's through a constant stream of cigarette smoke. Now I want them to stop people from smoking on the sidewalks (will they ever go that far?). I hate smoking - everything about it.

Like you Ann, I remember those days of being stuck in the back seat of a smoker's car too (heck the home was just as bad). I used to get car sick in the hour long drives to grandma's because of it. One time actually throwing up (my dad kept saying, "we're almost there," rather than pulling over), but the upside to that was an afternoon on grandma's couch eating lollipops.

Oh, and when you cleaned the car, the rag would be yellow. Eeeeew! One of the reasons (another is smelly ashtrays) I was and never will be a smoker of any kind.

Revenant said...

My parents' smoking caused a variety of breathing-related health problems for me. That's a big part of what got them to quit smoking. It is vaguely depressing that some people might actually *need* a law to get them to be decent parents.

MadisonMan said...

I think problems would be solved by requiring a Government License for procreating. Only Certified People could have children. No certification? Well, you're on Birth Control. The Pill for the woman, and the Pill for the Man. In this way, the children could be protected from the evil their parents do. Because, of course, it's all about the Children!!!! Breastfeeding should also be required, and if you want to feed your child a cookie made with Crisco? Say hello to my TransFat Enforcer Guido.

I predict that smokers in Bangor will drive around with unlit cigarettes dangling from their mouths. From what I can read, that's not illegal.

vbspurs said...

I predict that smokers in Bangor will drive around with unlit cigarettes dangling from their mouths. From what I can read, that's not illegal.

YET.

First the cigarettes. Then the trans-fatty acids, and soon before you know it, you're Clive Owen ferrying around humanity's last chance to procreate.

Cheers,
Victoria

Jennifer said...

I hate smoking and will only defend smokers rights if they do it in their own homes and on their own property

Since when is a car not a person's own property?

I hate parents who smoke in the car with their kids. But, this kind of regulation makes me uneasy.

Gerry said...

but the creeping regulation of smoking, into the private sphere, is definitely one of them.

This phrase is two words too long, in my estimation. Anyone want to guess which two should be omitted?

ASX said...

I think it's funny how many conservatives are totally unconcerned about the Military Commissions Act of 2006, the repeal of habeas corpus, and the frightening, extremist doctrine of the unitary executive.

But horrified by NYC's ban of trans fats.

One guy said it was like the Soviet Union.

And the torture wasn't!? The president's power to disappear people without due process isn't?!

We live in strange times.

AJ Lynch said...

ASX asked:

"and torture wasn't"?

One last time- Abu Graib was not torture- just a bit of drunken college frat-type hijinks gone amuck. Cheerleader-type pyramids sans the cute girls at the top does not equate to torture. In fact, I just read these same party-themes have been adopted at all the Ivy league colleges which produce about 99% of the ACLU's future nuisance lawsuit filers.

Plus these are American smokers we are protecting - not some stinking terrorist with an IED.

Seven Machos said...

ASX -- Is there a difference between a law banning cigarette smoke in cars and the laws you cite ostensibly repealing habeas corpus (and so many other rights)? Just for instance, under what circumstances would you or even Timothy McVeigh be affected by those laws?

Also, did Bill Clinton subscribe to "the doctrine of the unitary executive" or did he kowtow to the Republican Congress?

Also, what was the vote for the Military Commissions Act you speak of? Was it passed by a fairly and democratically elected Congress and signed by a democratically elected president? Was it revamped to fit the criticisms of previous law by an unelected Supreme Court? What is the Constitutional issue?

I could go on. But I won't. Because I think you are probably not interested in actually considering in any depth your nifty but shallow and trite slogans.

Joe said...

I remember how good that first whiff of smoke smelled when my dad put the car lighter to his Chesterfield. Probably has something to do with why I smoked for 25 years before quitting, but maybe not. Anyway I was not aware that habeas corpus had been repealed, seeing as how I still have to respond to the petitions in District Court. Someone should tell the prisoners.
Or maybe someone's panties are in a wad because every damn terrorist in the world does not have standing to bring a habeas petition.

Anonymous said...

People with nothing too much times on their hands and nothing better to do can do a lot of damage.

Madison Man has the right take on this. It seems to me that Cat is all for government trampling of civil rights as long as they aren't ones cat is interested in.

I detest smoking and have been watching my father slowly die of it (despite his quitting 30 years ago). But this is ridiculous, and virtually unenforceable.

Every time a government body passes a law just so everyone can pretend they did something and feel good agout it, respect for the rule of law diminishes.

Every time we willingly allow the curtailment of personal freedom to advance some supposed public good, our lives are diminished.

Reminds me of the people you mentioned ealier, Ann: the ones who bought homes downtown and now want to sanitize it for their convenience.

People so willing to run other people's lives generally can't manage their own.

Goesh said...

Next certain types of music will have to be stopped in cars carrying kids - we mustn't have aggressive or lethargic kids you know...

J. Peden said...

The only responsible thing for smokers to do is to switch to "chew". It's also much cheaper, as you can even use bulk cigarette tobacco as chew. [I don't recommend pipe tobacco.]

You just grab a pinch, place it between your cheek and lower gum, and "Man, is it comfortin'."

Pogo said...

C.S. Lewis had it right:

"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive.

It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."

Christy said...

I'm for making it a misdemeanor to shoot anyone lighting up within sniffing range.

And it has nothing to do with being a moral busybody. It's because, to be indelicate, the snot immediately starts to run down the back of my throat and the headache comes soon thereafter.

Anonymous said...

Every time we willingly allow the curtailment of personal freedom to advance some supposed public good, our lives are diminished.

In principle, I agree with this, but I don't agree that curtailing someone's right to expose children to toxic, carcinogenic smoke can really be called a curtailment of personal freedom anymore, given what we know about this substance. I reject the slippery-slope kinds of arguments when it comes to smoking. Smoking has moved into a different category than its former running buddies drinking, sex, junk food and recreational drugs. It's a public health threat to innocent third parties.

There are lots of legitimate, uncontroversial public health and environmental measures that impinge on someone's definition of personal freedom, surely. You can't hose a toxic substance off your property so it runs off into other people's property. You can't play music as loud as you want as late as you want. You can't store flammable fuel in an open container in your garage.

Forcing an innocent third party -- even it it's your own child -- to inhale your smoke is more like those examples than it is like prohibiting the use of marijuana or outlawing pornography.

We wince at the regulation of smoking because a lot of us used to do it. My extremely liberal mother draws the line as regulations like this -- because she's still a smoker. It is probably shocking to someone in my mother's age group to realize that engaging in a socially-encouraged habit formed in their youth now makes you a pariah. In that sense, smoking is a unique phenomenon. I am always uneasy with the nanny state, but cracking down on smoking is one crusade that doesn't bother me.

Cat said...

Jennifer - I think it's different when you are forcing kids to inhale your smoke in a confined space. When I wrote that I don't mind you smoking on your property and hopefully with a few acres of space, I was thinking as an apartment dweller. One of the reasons I stay in my apartment is as noisy as my avenue is, nobody smokes that lives in my building (small) or hanging out under my window smoking (as they do across the street).

Smoking doesn't fit into the the same "slippery slope" arguments other people make. You wanna eat trans fats? Drive without your seatbelt? Go ahead. That doesn't effect me. When others smoke in my prescence or outside my apartment window, it does effect me. My eyes water, and I start a sneezing jag due to my runny nose.

See the difference? Go blacken your lungs if you want to, yellow your fingers, nails and teeth; embrace your bad breath - you'll have my full support - just don't do it anywhere near me.

Max Power said...

Moving away from the don't tread on me machismo commentary one might expect in response to this, and digging into the true intellectual arguments of the two sides, and you are left with some bitter irony when you hold this up against the abortion debate. A watered-down abortion debate would have one person complaining about a child who cannot adequately speak for themselves or make an informed choice; and another person talking about the rights of the adult to make their own personal decision without government intervention. Now skip to this cigarette debate and that first person is talking about someone making their own personal decision without deference to what the kid may truly want and disparaging government intervention; the second person now, however, is stepping up arguing about what will occur to this kid who has no substantive ability to stop the parent themselves.

Obviously not all pro-lifers are pro-smoker, and not all pro-choicers are anti-smoker... but it's a strong correlation.

If you can take a step back and look at the two sides objectively and sans rhetoric, it really is amusing... or sad... or something.

vbspurs said...

This phrase is two words too long, in my estimation. Anyone want to guess which two should be omitted?

Creeping and smoking?

Anyway, I'm with Jennifer, and I daresay, a lot of other people -- this kind of regulation, makes me dreadfully uneasy.

And I HATE smoking.

Cheers,
Victoria

vbspurs said...

It's a public health threat to innocent third parties.

Alcohol is much much worse.

You'd think Americans would've learnt their lesson when they repealed the 21st Amendment.

But it seems the spirit of Carrie Nation lives on.

Cheers,
Victoria

ginabina said...

"A no-smoking section in a restaurant is like a no-peeing section in a swimming pool."

Not sure why the post made me think of this, but, well, it did.

One thing that really doesn't often get mentioned is that many, many smokers are living at or near poverty level and on welfare.

Smoking is costly to both the health and budget of these people and their children. It really is a part of what is holding them down, isn't it? What opportunities might a poor child have had if their parents hadn't wasted thousands of dollars on cigarettes over the course of their lifetimes, not to mention the harm to their health? (and also the cyclical example set for the kids, who often will continue the cycle into poverty and also become smokers.)

I've become an asthmatic in the past few years and I really can't handle even a little bit of cigarette smoke (or burning leaves or incense in church, unfortunately).

All of that said, I'm not in favor of too much legislation. I don't really have answers. I do appreciate non-smoking restaurants and avoid restaurants where I know I'll end up smelling like an ashtray when I leave. I know from experience that restaurants do NOT lose business when they go non-smoking....this has not been proven in the many areas where restaurant laws have been changed.

Anonymous said...

I don't smoke, have lung problems (likely caused by growing up in a home with two smokers) and belong to a church which discourages smoking.

And I do support some regulations on smoking, enough to make it possible for a person who never wants to be around it to achieve that goal and not have any lifestyle restrictions as a result. And I can see the logic in this one since a child doesn't comprehend the consequences of second hand smoke and can't really make this choice anyway.

However, I also feel that a lot of smoking regulations are more of the punitive variety, in which the unstated goal is to make smoking so difficult and frankly painful (i.e. being forced to stand outside on a 110 degree day, or in a whipping winter wind or in the sleet in order to smoke) that people will be coerced into quitting. It seems to me that things were fine when restaurants had an adequately separate smoking section (as in another room, for example). But passing laws saying that no one can ever smoke in any restaurant no matter what the layout is, is punitive. Ditto it used to be that some office buildings had a 'smokers lounge.' If you didn't smoke then you didn't go into it (or if you did then you knew what to expect.) But now the laws have reached the extent that a business can't choose to have such a place if they wanted to.

As I said before, I don't smoke and don't particularly care for it. But there comes a time when regulations are no longer being put in place to protect people, and are being passed purely because some people so detest something that they will do anything to stamp it out, and in a lot of communities that line has been reached and passed.

Now granted, I think that once smoking has been limited to situations that nonsmokers can go through life with a reasonable expectation that they will not have to encounter it, I would then open up smoking areas to marijuana users as well as tobacco, but that is another argument for another day.

michael a litscher said...

Gerry: Anyone want to guess which two should be omitted?

"of smoking"

God save us from the do-gooders.

Rick said...

When you go to law school, do you thereafter lose your ability to see the difference between right and wrong in a moral sense, as opposed to a strictly legal sense?

I'm serious. Because only a lawyer could describe, as one commenter did above, a law against smoking in a car with kids as a "curtailment of personal freedom" --and keep a straight face.

I didn't have to go to law school to figure this much out:

Fact #1: Some rights supersede others (your right to swing your fist around ends where my nose begins, which is also exactly where your right to spread your stinky smoke ends).

Fact #2: Children need legal protections because sometimes their parents are selfish idiots.

There! It really IS that simple. I wonder how I'd do on the LSATs...

I'm worked up about this because I just saw a couple smoking in their SUV with their infant strapped into the child seat behind them. They were parked at a convenience store. They could have easily gotten out to smoke, but as it was chilly (45 degrees--hey, we're thin-skinned down here in the South, compared to Madison); they preferred to stay inside and poison their child.

You're all arguing about the wrong face of the coin. It's not about whether the government is too intrusive, it's why are people so f****ing selfish and stupid as to need to be led this way?

The local legislator in Maine is correct: we expect people like her to lead, and implicit in that is the realization that some among us need to be told how to do--and not do--just about everything. If everybody out there was as rational as most of the people who read this site (and who are attracted to it by Ann's rationality, among her other qualities), we might not need this law. But they aren't, and the health of those fools' children supersedes the fools' right not to be inconvenienced....

We hope the people we elect will be smart and moral and make laws that protect children without unreasonably inconveniencing parents. But is it really an unreasonable inconvenience to ask a parent not to smoke in a car? Isn't it okay to place "convenience" a rung or two on the ladder than "preserving a child's lungs and undeveloped immune system?"

As a very smart friend of mine used to say, "Parents have absolute power. And you know what happens when anyone gets that."

Revenant said...

very time we willingly allow the curtailment of personal freedom to advance some supposed public good, our lives are diminished.

Until someone figures out a way to divvy up the Earth's atmosphere into privately-owned chunks and get everyone to buy into the idea of treating air that way, air pollution -- in whatever form -- will never be strictly a matter of personal freedom. The tragedy of the commons is one of the reasons we need government in the first place.

hygate said...

"It is probably shocking to someone in my mother's age group to realize that engaging in a socially-encouraged habit formed in their youth now makes you a pariah. In that sense, smoking is a unique phenomenon."

Is this phenomenon unique to smoking? Way before any of us were born chewing tobbaco and spitting out the juice in public was considered acceptable. (If done by men.) Only a small minority of people who used tobacco smoked it. Public spitting only became unacceptable after it was discovered that it was a major vector for spreading tuberculosis and a public health campaign was instituted to discourage it.

Pogo said...

Re: "The tragedy of the commons is one of the reasons we need government in the first place."

Pogo said...

Rew: "The tragedy of the commons is one of the reasons we need government in the first place."

And by what reasoning does one's own car become a "commons"?

A moral busybody is at their most dangerous when invoking the Statist cry, It's for the children. For that argument can be used to justfiy any intrusion into the personal sphere.

In England, as Althouse has noted, parents who fail to teach their kiddies the correct state-mandated nursery rhymes will be investigated.

"If it is the duty of the government to prevent people from harming the body by what is ingested (e.g. tobacco, alcohol, high fat content), surely there can be no objection to the state limiting those activities that might also result in harm and public expense. Riding a motorcycle, skiing and rock climbing and other high-risk activities become fair game.

Further, if the government demands the right to determine what the human body can or cannot consume, there is no good reason to limit its interest in the effects of media on behavior and the human mind. In order to reduce health costs and prevent harm to society, preventing people from reading bad books or advertisements, listening to bad music or speeches and watching bad TV shows, video games, or movies should quite reasonably fall under the purview of the state.

Even discussing forbidden behaviors could be forbidden, not unlike legislation in Canada regarding “hate speech” which exposes the increasing trend toward censorship for “expressing thoughts that the state defines as improper”. However, because true freedom entails the freedom to make mistakes, this kind of society is no longer a democracy by any means, and no longer free, except free to obey."

R2K said...

: ) Good idea.

Anonymous said...

Rick said: Fact #2: Children need legal protections because sometimes their parents are selfish idiots.

I agree. Some parents are stupid idiots, but do we really want to start legislating on that? Breast milk is healthier than formula--do we remove babies from mothers who don't wish to bottle feed? (Or course, the irony of that is that the foster parents would have to use formula, but at least the bad parent would be punished!)

Some food is unhealthy. Should I call Child Protective Services when I'm at the park and I notice the woman next to me weighs 300 pounds and is passing out Cheetos and Snickers bars to her children?

And let's talk television. Should parents who subscribe to HBO have their children taken away? After all, HBO has bad words and naked people on it. No guarentee that JR won't get up at 2:00 a.m. and turn it on. Bad, bad parents!

And what about alcohol? Drinking in front of the chidren is setting a bad example. Whatever shall we do?

I don't smoke, I don't drink and I don't even watch t.v. with bad words in it. (In fact, I mostly watch the Magic Schoolbus, but I digress.) If you want to make cigarette smoking illegal, fine. Go head. But, this constant trying to punish people for legal behavior drives me nuts.

Parents should not smoke around their chidren. But, I agree with CS Lewis--keep the busybodies out of our lives.

class-factotum said...

If smoking is so awful, then make it illegal. There. Problem solved.

Anonymous said...

I think there is some confusion about the difference between legislating your personal freedoms vs. your freedom to impose your stupid choices onto others, especially defenseless children who cannot remove themselves from harm's way.
I don't give a rats a$$ if you want to smoke in your car, but don't do it with an innocent victim strapped into the seat behind you (your kid or me for that matter.) Of course we can't call social services out on someone for having HBO or Cheetos or alcohol in the house, unless you're forcibly making your kids watch porn, or have never offered them a piece of fruit or are pouring them drinks.
This not smoking in the car with a child inside issue is simply about moving from using your personal freedom to poison yourself to using that freedom to poison someone else who has not chosen to do so. You can choose to participate in dangerous behaviors like skydiving or skiing (or smoking), you are free to risk your own life and limb as you wish, but you can't strap an unwilling person to your back and put their life at risk too.
I think the chewing tobacco idea is great - give yourself cancer - I don't care, but you should not have the right to subject your kids or anyone else to a known carcinogen.

Anonymous said...

Not taking either side in this one, but I saw this over on The Corner and thought it to be at least tangentially related:

"One of the marks of a certain type of bad man is that he cannot give up a thing himself without wanting every one else to give it up. That is not the Christian way. An individual Christian may see fit to give up all sorts of things for special reasons—marriage, or meat, or beer, or the cinema; but the moment he starts saying the things are bad in themselves, or looking down his nose at other people who do use them, he has taken the wrong turning."

-- C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Pogo said...

Jen, the problem is that the list of things people think "you should not have the right to subject your kids or anyone else to" is literally endless, depending only on the whim of those nannies currently in power.

As I stated, the Leftist cry of "it's for the children" means you want to decide what's best for other people and their children. If so, there's no logical end to the intrusions of the state into your personal life.

And this has already happened in the 20th century, and each time ended quite badly.

MadisonMan said...

jen, you ignore the obvious: It is far more dangerous to be in the car than to inhale second-hand smoke. Do a google search on children killed in car accidents while being driven around by their uncaring parents! Children are being slaughtered every day! Where is the outrage? Why are we letting parents kill their children this way? Who will save the children?

You shouldn't be able to put a kid in a new car, either. All that outgassing known as new car smell? Carcinogenic. No more feeding kids hot dogs. All those nitrites. Cancer cancer cancer!

Who will save the children!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

You can choose to participate in dangerous behaviors like skydiving or skiing (or smoking), you are free to risk your own life and limb as you wish, but you can't strap an unwilling person to your back and put their life at risk too.

Does this mean I shouldn't be allowed to enroll my offspring in skiing lessons? Or horseback riding?

And as a matter of fact, I strapped an unwilling 3 year old to my back (well, alternately mine and my husband's backs) and took her up Mount Timpanagos last summer. She was not amused.

Pogo said...

Re: She was not amused.

Now that was damn funny.

SteveR said...

Far more children's lives are negatively impacted by alcohol abuse (as Victoria points out).

The reason my friend's dad flicked the cherry of his cigar out of the window and into the face of his son, siting in the back seat, while driving down the highway some 40 years ago, was that he was drunk.

The son, who grew up in a tragically dysfunctional family, which was centered on alcohol abuse, killed himself years later. I, for one, would love to hear him talk about a breathing problem.

Robert said...

Some (not all) of the problem here is the legally/socially ambiguous role children play - in some situations, they are people, in others, the property of their parents, and in still others, the property of the state.

If I want to take my sons out of elementary school and have them take jobs at the local jute mill, the state has determined that that is beyond the scope of my authority as a parent. If I want to take them out of school and homeschool them, the state has determined that that is within the scope. We have already accepted the state's right to determine what is and is not acceptable parenting; the only question now is where the line gets drawn. Can I feed my child a strictly vegan diet? Can I feed my child Cheet-os and Pop-Tarts? Must my homeschooling give equal time to creationism and evolution?

Pretending that this is somehow unprecendented (the no-smoking-in-cars rule) is disingenous.

R C Dean said...

The tragedy of the commons is one of the reasons we need government in the first place.

Precisely the opposite, actually. "The commons" were communally held areas that were destroyed by overuse. The tragedy of the commons ended when they became privately owned.

The tragedy of the commons shows why we need private ownership, not government control.

Oh, and the dangers of second hand smoke are grossly exaggerated. Second hand smoke is mostly a pretext to get around the argument that smokers are only harming themselves. You can look it up!

Pogo said...

No one is 'pretending that this is somehow unprecendented'.

Quite the opposite.
Statism is all too well-precedented, and too dangerous not to oppose at every step down that very slippery slope.

Anonymous said...

A lot of comments on this thread made me go WHAT???

In England, as Althouse has noted, parents who fail to teach their kiddies the correct state-mandated nursery rhymes will be investigated.

Yeah, and not forcing your kid to inhale toxic smoke is justlikethat!

Alcohol is much much worse.

Right, and there are laws against drinking and driving, so what's the point? Moreover, if you are out of control of your drinking or substance abuse, at some point you risk having your children taken away from you.

However, I also feel that a lot of smoking regulations are more of the punitive variety, in which the unstated goal is to make smoking so difficult and frankly painful (i.e. being forced to stand outside on a 110 degree day, or in a whipping winter wind or in the sleet in order to smoke) that people will be coerced into quitting.

So, you're saying the people who don't like inhaling smoke in a confined space, such as an office or a restaurant are, like, in on this public health-driven scam? The smoke doesn't really bother them, they just pretend it bothers them to get smokers to quit? How do you know this? I think it's true that these smoking regulations do influence some people to quit -- me, for example -- but if they weren't so popular with non-smokers, there wouldn't be such regulations. The science on second-hand smoke might be less impressive than advertised, but so what? I need a scientist to tell me I don't like choking on something that smells so foul?

As I stated, the Leftist cry of "it's for the children" means you want to decide what's best for other people and their children. If so, there's no logical end to the intrusions of the state into your personal life.

And this has already happened in the 20th century, and each time ended quite badly.


Want to discredit libertarian thinking? Say stuff like this. Of course there is a "logical end!" As I tried to illustrate in another post, we already submit to many laws that define rational limits to unfettered individual freedom for the sake of others' safety and public health. And that's the logical end. Smoking is not a philosophy, a lifestyle choice or a form of recreation in the context of this law. It is a public health threat to a helpless individual.

I am beginning to suspect the confusion on this issue is really derived from our ambiguity and ambivalence on the role of children. Are children the property of their parents? The state? Themselves? God's? There's no agreement in our society on this.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Pogo. I do try.

Sigivald said...

If our erstwhile Councilor really thinks it's equivalent to attempted murder, I encourage her to get a law enacted making it felony attempted murder or manslaughter to smoke around a child, rather than a $50 fine.

Otherwise, she might wish to reconsider her words, since she evidently doesn't take them seriously.

SteveR said...

johnstodder: my point would be that if you care about the "children" than this law is beyond puny. All the alcohol laws, don't prevent the vast amount of abuse, but if you really wanted to make a difference that should be where you'd push for more laws.

I'm not saying it would do any good, but it'd be more authentic than smoking in a car with a child present laws.

Jennifer said...

Cat - In that case it might be more accurate to say I hate smoking and will only defend smokers rights if they do it in their own homes and on their own property so long as that property is not located in proximity to my property or the property of anybody I believe should be protected by law and so long as no persons are present on that property who I believe should be protected by law or who might be irritated or otherwise inconvenienced by said smokers and so long as I am not on that property.

And I don't smoke, but thanks for your permission anyhow.

hygate said...

I think the chewing tobacco idea is great - give yourself cancer

Since my comment was the only one to mention chewing tabacco, I want to stress that I wasn’t advocating switching from cigarettes to smokeless tobacco. I was only pointing out that the phenomena of a once socially acceptable habit becoming, within a short period of time, unacceptable in polite society is not a new one. Its not even unprecedented for the government to be involved. Another example would be the use of child safety seats (remember the flack Brittany Spears got for driving with her baby in her lap, there was a time, not terribly long ago, when no one would have thought there was anything wrong with that).

Anonymous said...

All the alcohol laws, don't prevent the vast amount of abuse, but if you really wanted to make a difference that should be where you'd push for more laws.

I think we're missing each other here. I wouldn't be in favor of the Maine law on the theory that smoking impairs the driver, as alcohol clearly does. I would favor it because of the health effects on young lungs of breathing second-hand smoke. It should be common sense to a smoking adult that you don't smoke in the car when your kids are with you, but for those who don't have common sense, a law like this is an educational tool.

I guess it's somewhat analogous to when the DUI laws dropped in most states down to .08. At .08, you're not bombed. You probably wouldn't be weaving or acting aggressively, thus wouldn't be likely to attract the attention of the cops. But your judgment is impaired -- more than you think. So the point of such laws is not to get the worst drunk drivers off the road -- they were covered by the looser law. The point is to educate people like me that even moderate drinking can make me a worse driver, so be careful.

You might say -- the same thing can be accomplished by sending a brochure, or putting an ad on TV. Yeah, that should be enough; but practically speaking, it isn't.

John A said...

I agree it is not a good idea to smoke with very young children in the car, but I also think it is not a good idea to use the rear-view mirror to apply makeup while driving, or conduct a business meeting on the phone (even if hands-free) while tooling along, or... Well, lots of things do not seem too bright.

But THIS! "Pediatrician Robert Holmberg said the evidence is `incontrovertible` that exposure to cigarette smoke causes medical disorders in children, including asthma, bronchitis, ear infections and heart disease." Bad enough that tht is waht we hear from non-doctors, but a doctor should pay attention to facts - not appearances. About a year ago, a two-year study done in California was finished: its purpose was to "Prove" the "obvious" relationship between second-hand smoke and asthma. The conclusion, despite this bias, was that there was no significant link. Good news, though - further massaging of the data DID suggest a very strong link to a genetic (inherited) factor, which may help with treatment later on.

SteveR said...

johnstodder:

Ok we're not so far apart. Really I just feel its more symbolic than effective. What's worse is the idea that they actually might think they are doing something really, really important.

Anonymous said...

The expressions of concern for the health of smokers and their children is very touching. Then again, I don't buy it.

Need a new tax, a new fee, need to raise money for that new stadium? Target smokers. Nobody's going to defend them, except maybe the tobacco lobby and everyone knows they're evil (no sarcasm intended there--the tobacco lobby really is evil).

The thing is (as Cat maybe intentionally or unintentionally, yet more honestly than others, expressed) all of this concern for other people's health on this issue is so much bullshit. If so many people were so concerned about smoking and the effects of second-hand smoke, if second-hand smoke was such a massive public health concern, we would have, as another commenter suggested, banned it completely. Instead, these incremental, punitive measures get implemented because, as everyone (like Cat) knows, smokers are smelly and dirty and no one likes them.

I'm not here to defend smoking--as Mr. Mackey would say, "Smokin's bad, mmmkay"--but to say stop this disingenuous, patronizing crap about about how you're worried about The Children. If you're really worried about The Children, then I'd take the Libertarian trans-fat argument one step farther and say that you should also endorse a law which fines parents who overfeed their offspring until they become amorphous blobs, thereby increasing their risk for heart disease and diabetes.

That is the new "epidemic", isn't it?

Roger E said...

For some time now, proposals were being made to impose ban on smoking in cars with kids. In the countries like the US and the UK where smoking is nothing less than epidemics, these proposals were taken and even bills were passed to the effect. Now, even in Australia where smoking is not that rampant, similar laws have been passed where one can’t drive and smoke with kids. The laws would come into effect from the 1st of September 2008. http://www.chantixhome.com

Nykemartyn said...

A law passed by the Legislature earlier this year outlaws smoking in cars while youths under 16 are present. It's modeled after a tougher Bangor ordinance. California, Arkansas and Louisiana have passed similar laws, as have Puerto Rico and some Canadian provinces. Other states have also looked at the proposal.
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Nykemartyn
California Dui

Beloved said...

Well all I have to say is that I am a single mom going to college full-time, working full-time and live in a safe house, with a permanent restraining order until for both me and my daughter until she is 18. All because of my the Army sent my husband to Iraq and brought me back a woman abuser and child beater. I smoke in the car (gasp!) with the window down. I know it affects my child, but the way I look at it, it keeps me sane and if I'm not she goes to my husband who will definately kill her. So go on with all your opinions and judge me all you want. I'm the one looking at my daughter every single night saying mommy loves you and will keep fighting to stay sane so that you can have the life you deserve. It's America and I've been run over by the system enough to know, there are things they do that would make you cry. But smoking in a car with my child on the way to work? Hilarious.....