Idea: Smoking With Kids

Editor's Note: On February 6, we asked BlueOregon readers to suggest progressive ideas that the next Oregon Legislature should enact. Over the next several weeks, we'll post some of these ideas here - and ask you to discuss them. Good idea? Bad idea? Any suggestions?

From Reid Leake:

We need a law to protect children from second hand smoke. We have removed cigarette smoke from many places, why not our automobiles while there are children as passengers. This seems like a no brainer to me.


[If you have your own original progressive idea to propose, do it here: "There oughta be a law."]

  • oyez, oyez (unverified)

    While I share your concern about 2nd-hand smoke, I wonder if progressives should be at the forefront of decreasing our Constitutional rights. Specifically, if a law that bans smoking in cars with children were passed in Oregon, citizens could evoke their Fourth Amendment rights in the event that they are arrested.

    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

    Unfortunately, the rights of citizens under the Fourth Amendment have slowly been eroded and it is not clear whether a law such as this would pass Constitutional muster. In the current political atmosphere, it very well could. Do progressives really want to hand the fascist right-wing yet another tool for invading our personal privacy?

  • THartill (unverified)

    I think a no brainer would be to leave people the hell alone.

    First you would need to prove that second-hand smoke is any worse than the fumes from the car in front of you, or any more of a risk to a child's health than the danger of riding in a car. Which most likely can't be done. Then you would have to enforce it, which would be almost impossible, unless you had some kind of "checkpoints" on the highways. Next you would need to find some tax dollars, which most likely would be pulled from something else.

    Sounds like another drug war. No thanks.

  • apcow (unverified)

    I think we should also ban kittens from my apartment building, that loud Australian guy from Bouchon, and "Everybody Loves Raymond" from Nick at Nite.

  • LegStaffer (unverified)

    This is a great idea -- and one that was even kicked about at the tail end of the last legislative session. (But not drafted.)

    To say that secondhand smoke is no more harmful than the exhaust from the car in front of you boggles my mind. And besides -- that's part of why Oregon instated the Clean Car standards.

    Enforcing it would be no problem -- don't think that the state has to set up roadblocks to catch every single smoker... It's no different than enforcing a law requiring people to wear seatbelts.

    Incidentally, the fourth amendment doesn't apply to cases of "in plain sight." A cop looks over -- sees a driver smoking up the car next to an infant in a car seat. How is that "unreasonable search" different than a cop seeing someone waving a gun in their car?

    I'd be interested in seeing a breakdown of the costs to the state in terms of uncompensated care stemming from secondhand smoke. I know that each pack of cigs sold costs taxpayers about $7 in uncompensated health care... So maybe we go one further and require smokers to show proof of health insurance before they purchase any?

  • Kitty C (unverified)

    How about a law that would sunset every other law every ten years? How about a Unicameral state government? Give me my liberty back.

  • Justin (unverified)

    Interesting, this proposal... when we haven't even banned smoking from bars & restaurants yet.

    I just have to say something about vices in general: people have them. Yes, smoking is bad for you, and 2nd hand does damage people who aren't engaging in the activity. However, making a draconian set of laws against every potentially harmful activity goes against the grain of what this country is about - which is to define your own destiny. Ironically, I am all for a welfare state, but individual freedoms - and opportunities - are far more valuable, in my opinion. And yes, this is more of a philosophical issue, so I understand that lots of people may disagree with me.

  • Justin (unverified)

    Forgot the last part of my comment:

    As with most things, philosophical arguments don't stand up very well to real-life situations. And kids shouldn't have 10 years knocked off their lifespand just because their parents made crappy decisions. I would suggest an educational campaign instead of threat of going to jail as a way to enlighten people and to try to change their behavior. Or are we going to treat this like the Neo-Cons do sex ed and just arrest any kiddie who engages in sex - I mean parents who smoke around kids?

  • AnonyBonnie (unverified)

    The difference is in whether an activity is banned because it's measurably detrimental to a third party... or banned because it doesn't fit into arbitrary intangible ideals of some uninvolved party.

    There has been an educational campaign (and data collection) about the harmful effects of smoking for years... which is the proper first step. But I don't want to tell the 300,000 kids each year with acute lower respiratory infections, "Sorry kids, but momma really likes lighting up."

    The freedom to swing one's fist ends where another person's nose begins. And the freedom to light up (which is a great freedom), should end where a non-smoking child is concerned.

    (By the way, when did NeoCons start srresting kids who had sex?)

  • geno (unverified)

    Those who self righteously seek to regulate choice, by penalizing stupid ones, should be euthanized. But seriously, how about a legislative session aimed at amending and repealing existing law, rather than enacting new ones. Let's tune up the ones we have and shape measure 37 to limit it's adverse impact on important land use values. Perhaps a fruitfull house cleaning session might ease the rancor which pervades our law making body.

  • oyez, oyez (unverified)

    LegStaffer, Currently, smoking in your car "in plain sight" is not illegal. So, technically, this ban would create yet another opportunity for the government to search your person, property, etc., a further erosion of your privacy. I'll ask again - why would a Progressive ask for this? BTW, I've known many Oregonians who drive around with fully loaded rifles in racks and "in plain sight" and I can guarantee that those good people who practice their 2nd Amendment rights are not having their 4th Amendment rights taken away from them for doing so.

    "Incidentally, the fourth amendment doesn't apply to cases of "in plain sight." A cop looks over -- sees a driver smoking up the car next to an infant in a car seat. How is that "unreasonable search" different than a cop seeing someone waving a gun in their car?"

  • THartill (unverified)


    If we are going to talk about products that endanger kids, why don't we just make laws that ban everything that is harmful. Let's take food for example, since more people die from being overweight, than smoking, shouldn't we tell parents what they can feed their kids also? Or maybe tell them that they can't feed their kids fatty foods in public or in their car. But in the home? Well that's ok, 4th amendments right ya know. Take an overweight person and a person that uses cigs to keep the weight off. Which costs the system more in the long-run?

    I know that each pack of cigs sold costs taxpayers about $7 in uncompensated health care...

    This seems very far-fetched, and even if it is true, I'm sure many other harmful activities would cost the same or more, (Not eating right, riding in cars..etc..)

    Good luck with your dreams of a Authoritarian Police State. You must be in heaven with the clowns we have "over-seeing" us in D.C.

  • (Show?)

    Smoking is an addiction. The state has never been successful in legislating against addictions. Education has worked. Most parents limit their kids' smoke exposure already. Laws would criminalize the addicts too addicted, or too inconsiderate. People deliberately trying to hurt their kids don't choose smoking as a weapon.

    Criminalize intentional abusers and educate the unintentional. That's a far saner way to proceed.

  • KittyJ (unverified)

    How is smoking in your car different from smoking in your home? The 4th amendment applies to both your home and your car. And secondhand smoke is harmful no matter where it is. If we want to protect kids from their parents' secondhand smoke, just prohibiting smoking in the car won't do it. From a legal as well as health standpoint, how could we justify making smoking in a car illegal but smoking at home OK?

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not a fan of smoking; I'm allergic to cigarette smoke, and I've benefitted from laws limiting smoking in public places. If the state has a compelling interest in prohibiting smoking in private places, have it apply everywhere. Why just in automobiles?

  • (Show?)

    I don't think a lot of you commenters are recognizing a golden opportunity here.

    If we write laws delineating appropriate behavior for every situation and location, we can completely eliminate all education funds from the state budget.

    Why should we bother to educate anyone, when The State has all of the answers to life's questions.

  • Aaron V. (unverified)

    Agree with the sunset provision for criminal laws (and administrative regulations) after 10 years. Do you really think that people will care 40 years from now about pointing laser pointers at cops?

    All political ads must identify the ad/PR agency that makes it, in clear type or normal-paced speech. That way, we'll be able to tell what political ads are made by the distortion crew of Gard & Gerber.

    Cap interest rates and fees on payday loans to 36%. Sorry, Karen Minnis doesn't want any part of this, since they fund her campaigns...

  • PanchoPdx (unverified)

    How is smoking in your car different from smoking in your home?

    And what if you smoke with kids in your motorhome?

    I think we should only prohibit smoking in small cars with kids. H2's, Escalades, Suburbans, Excursions and other roomy SUV's should be exempt.

    In fact, since children are much safer in them anyway (surrounded by all that armor), maybe we should prohibit children from riding in smaller cars altogether.

    Remember it's all for the kids....

open discussion

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