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Smoking May be Banned in Cars

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Original Title:
Senate Considers Banning Smoking in Cars with Children Inside

Smoking in vehicles when children are inside may become illegal in California. The Senate is considering a bill this week that would make it a crime to smoke inside a car when children under the age of 18 are inside.

"This is another way we can protect kids' health," said the bill's author, Sen. Jenny Oropeza, D-Long Beach.

Oropeza said young lungs are particularly vulnerable to secondhand smoke, especially in confined spaces like cars. She said fining adults $100 for each violation would make them think twice about lighting up near minors.

"This bill will be a real disincentive for adults to smoke in cars with kids," Oropeza said.

But critics label the bill, SB 7, a "nanny government" measure, one that gives government too much control over private activity.

"At some point we have to say government needs to stay out of somebody's home and they need to stay out of somebody's car," said bill opponent, Sen. Sam Aanestad, R-Grass Valley. "This is another one of those nanny government rules that I think infringes on parents rights."

As an oral surgeon, Aanestad knows the health dangers smoking can cause. He said he does not allow smoking in his car when his grandchildren are inside. Still, Aanestad says this is an area "where government should butt out."

"It's really up to the parents to determine what's best for their kids in this regard," Aanestad said.

Gov. Schwarzenegger has not indicated whether he would sign the bill, but when he was asked what he thought about adults smoking in cars when children are inside, he said, "That's terrible."

[August 2007 - This bill is still in committee]

(This story was provided by News10 Rewrite.)

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