Saturday, January 06, 2007

No Smoking in Your Car?

Lawmaker Proposes Smoking Ban In Cars

Legislation Would Keep People From Lighting Up When There Are Children In The Vehicle

January 6, 2007
By SUSAN HAIGH, Associated Press, The Hartford Courant

Nearly four years after state lawmakers voted to ban smoking in Connecticut bars and restaurants, an East Hartford legislator wants to stop people from lighting up in their cars.

State Rep. Henry Genga, D-East Hartford, has submitted a bill that would prohibit people from smoking in cars when children are inside. Genga said he got the idea from a 9-year-old constituent who e-mailed him last year.

"It's coming from the young people and you've got to listen to the public," he said. "And this is coming from the public."

Motor vehicle smoking bans took effect in Arkansas and Louisiana over the summer.

According to Connecticut's Office of Legislative Research, the Arkansas law applies to drivers riding with children who are required to use child-restraint systems because they are under 6 years old or weigh less than 60 pounds. Violators are subject to $25 fines.

The Louisiana law applies to children under 13 and imposes a fine up to $150 or 24 hours of community service for a first offense.

Genga said he wants Connecticut's law to mirror Louisiana's. Under his proposal, a police officer would be able to stop a vehicle if he or she sees someone smoking with a youngster inside.

David Sutton, a spokesman for Philip Morris USA, the nation's largest cigarette maker, said the company discourages adults from smoking around young people but believes the owner of a private residence or car should determine whether smoking is allowed inside.

Genga's bill was filed Friday and awaits action by the legislature's select committee on children, as well as other committees.

In 2003, the Connecticut legislature banned smoking in bars and restaurants, but not in private clubs or the state's two casinos.

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