Bill: Cops Can Stop You If You’re Smoking in a Car With Kids

If passed, the proposal would carry a $100 fine.

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Beacon Hill officials don’t want people lighting up with kids in the car.

In a bill going before the Joint Committee on Public Health on Tuesday, State Representative Paul R. Heroux, D-Attleboro, is asking legislators to consider banning smoking in peoples’ cars if there is a child on board. A violation of the proposed law would carry a $100 fine if passed, and the proposed legislation follows the footsteps of many other states, including California and Maine.

According to Heroux’s filed legislation, police officers would be able to stop lawbreakers by pulling them over when they witness an infraction. An officer can’t search or inspect a motor vehicle, its contents, the driver, or a passenger solely because of a violation, however.

The bill states that if implemented, in the first 90 days after becoming a law, police would simply hand out warnings rather than fines, so that drivers could become accustomed to the new rule. If caught, the citation would not be considered a moving violation so it wouldn’t harm a driver’s record, according to the proposal. While Heroux’s proposal specifies that a violation would only be made if the child in the car is in a car seat, some states fine any driver who smokes in a car with a person 16 or under.

According to the Campaign For Tobacco Free Kids, in 2007, the American Academy of Pediatrics adopted a resolution asking that state and local chapters call for changes in existing state laws to protect children from secondhand smoke exposure “by prohibiting smoking in any vehicle while a legal minor is in the vehicle.” The campaign claims “there is overwhelming evidence of the harms associated with exposure to secondhand smoke that is specific to children and specific to enclosed environments.”

Heroux’s bill is one of 23 related to drugs and tobacco being heard on Beacon Hill on Tuesday.