Tempe is considering a ban on smoking in cars with children present. Recently elected city councilman David Schapira, formerly of the state legislature, made the proposition at a recent city council meeting. Schapira attempted to pass such a law at the state level each of the three years he served but nothing ever came of it. Other states, such as California and Oregon, have a similar law on the books prohibiting smoking in a vehicle with a child passenger. If Tempe elected to pass the law it would be the first of its kind within the state of Arizona. When he proposed the bad, Schapira said “Tempe has historically been a leader in tobacco-related issues.”
The ban has only just been proposed so it is too early for specifics on what punishment may be enforced. This rule is likely to be a secondary offense, however. This means that smoking a cigarette alone is not substantial enough for a police officer to pull a driver over. If a driver were pulled over for another violation, such as speeding or changing lanes without a signal, then a citation could be issued. Penalties in other states vary. Some require that the child passenger be 8 years or younger for it to be a violation, while other states designate any minor under the age of 18 constitutes a violation.
Opponent's to the law say that if the intent of the law is to protect kids' health, the ban is fundamentally flawed. Their claim is if a smoker would light a cigarette with a child in the car, then they are also smoking with that child present at home. Without eliminating both exposures, the law does nothing. Tempe's City Council is currently studying the subject and will revisit the issue. For now we shall have to wait and see. With or without a law, a person should not smoke with a child in their car.
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Jay Ciulla is a personal injury and wrongful death attorney practicing throughout the state of Arizona.