(KCPW News) Every year since 2007, various Utah lawmakers have tried to ban smoking in cars when a child is present. And this year, that effort failed once again, as the House Transportation Committee voted down HB 89 this morning. Republican Representative Jim Nielson voted no because he felt it infringes on the rights of parents.
“Where does government stop becoming involved in our lives?” he argues. “For example a child riding in a convertible without sunscreen which can also cause cancer – at which point do we stop saying the government says you have to do this, as opposed to relying on people to use their judgment and to have their rights and parents and as individuals?”
The bill’s sponsor, Democratic Representative Patrice Arent, says she’s trying to give a voice to the children who aren’t able to speak up for themselves.
“The secondhand smoke in a small confined place is so dangerous for children because of their developing lungs,” says Arent. “But these children, they’re captives in cars with this second hand smoke that damages their lungs, their hearts, leads to cancer. It’s just so dangerous for them.
Arent’s bill would have made smoking in a car with a child fifteen years old or younger a secondary offense. Offenders would have the choice of paying a $45 fine or enrolling in a smoking cessation class. She says she plans to sponsor the bill again in the future.