The National Safety Commission Alerts

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

California Bans Smoking in Vehicles with Children Present

Gov. Schwarzenegger Signs Bill Making It Illegal When Passengers Are Under Age of 18

California has become the third state to protect children in vehicles from secondhand smoke. Next year, residents of the Golden State will risk fines of up to $100 if they are caught smoking in cars with minors.

Recently, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill that will make it a violation to smoke in a vehicle when someone under age 18 is a passenger. But before the driver could be cited for smoking, he or she would have to be pulled over for another offense, such as speeding, or an illegal turn.

The ban is the latest in a string of smoking prohibitions adopted in California, including restrictions on smoking in enclosed workplaces and within 25 feet of a playground. It takes effect Jan. 1.

Last year, a Harvard School of Public Health report found that secondhand smoke in cars can be up to 10 times more of a health risk than secondhand smoke at home.

"Protecting the health of our children is among government's highest responsibilities," said Democratic state Sen. Jenny Oropeza, the bill's author. "It is clear that increasing public awareness about the dangers of secondhand smoke is the right thing to do."

Arkansas bans smoking in cars with children age 6 and younger, and Louisiana has banned it when children 13 and younger are in the vehicle. Maine lawmakers will discuss the smoking ban in January. At least 20 states and a number of municipalities have considered banning smoking in cars where minors are present.

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