(KCPW News) A bill that aims to prevent adults from smoking in a car when children are present passed the Senate on Friday and will now be sent to Governor Gary Herbert for consideration. Republican Senator Aaron Osmond of South Jordan said that the bill he’s sponsoring is meant to give rights to children who are unable to advocate for their own wellbeing.
“I believe that this bill is about putting the rights of the child ahead of the personal property rights of any adult, not just a parent – and that the toxic environment these children are in when driving in a car when an adult is smoking is unacceptable,” Osmond said during debate on the Senate floor.
House Bill 13, whose chief sponsor is Democratic Representative Patrice Arent, passed the senate on a narrow vote of 16 to 13, after lively debate on the role of government in people’s lives. But Republican Senator Mark Madsen of Eagle Mountain argued that the legislation represents an incursion by the state into parental responsibilities.
“I will stand before God to be judged on how I raised my children…and I don’t believe it’s appropriate for the state to step in and either play God, or play parent,” Madsen said.
The legislation – a version of which has been floated unsuccessfully for several years – would impose a fine of $45 for any adult caught smoking in a car where any children are present. That fine would be waived if the smoker agreed to enroll in smoking cessation program.
If the bill is signed by the governor, Utah will become only the sixth state to enact this kind of smoking ban.