Va. Senate panel backs restriction on smoking in cars with child - NBC12 - Richmond, VA News

Smokers and non-smokers agree with smoking in car ban

(AP Photo/Nati Harnik, File). FILE - In this Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2007 file photo, a man smokes in Omaha, Neb. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik, File). FILE - In this Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2007 file photo, a man smokes in Omaha, Neb.

A Virginia Senate committee endorsed legislation making it illegal for adults to smoke with kids in the car.

The Courts of Justice Committee voted 10-5 Monday to send Sen. Ralph Northam's bill to the Senate floor.

The bill would prohibit smoking in a vehicle in the presence of a child under the age of 15. The offense would be charged as a traffic infraction punishable by a $100 fine. Similar legislation failed in the General Assembly two years ago.

Northam, a Democrat from Norfolk, is a pediatric neurologist. He said second-hand smoke can cause or contribute to a number of health problems in children, including sudden infant death syndrome.

NBC12 asked these smokers what they thought.  Digend Siah and Sudhendra Ayaa are fathers who say they don't smoke in front of their children and are in favor of the bill.

"I agree with that bill.  I'm fine with that," says Siah.

"Even in front of the kids we should not smoke first.  Not just thinking about the car," says Ayaa who says he lights up only once  a month.

Both men say they are afraid of the health problems from second hand smoke.  According the American Academy of Pediatrics, the issue of smoking in the car needs to be addressed now.  In a recent article they wrote, "Even with ventilation, tobacco smoke pollution levels in cars remain high, and at least one study has demonstrated that air quality in a car with a window partially or completely down is similar to that of a typical smoky bar."

Karen Griffen, a mother of twins, says  she's not in favor of the government butting in but in a case like this: children should come first.

"Just have a little respect for your own children," she said.  "You can still smoke if you want to you know some where that's not harming other children."

The American Cancer Society and the American Academy of Pediatrics supported his bill. Nobody spoke against it.

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