It Could Soon Be Illegal To Smoke In A Car With Children Inside, Fines Till $10,000 Can Be Charged

In an effort to reign in the consequences of secondhand smoke in children, Indiana proposes a new bill that would deter adults from lighting up in the car with a child present.

Anti-smoking campaigns and warnings on cigarette packets seem to have done all they can do, as Indiana joins eight other states in the US in a bid to curb secondhand smoking among children trapped in cars with smoking adults. The proposed bill would make it illegal to light up and puff a cigarette when there are children below the age of six in the car with you. If caught, you could stand to pay hefty fines. This seemingly extreme step has been necessitated thanks to a league of misinformed adults who still fail to understand the serious implications secondhand smoke can have on their growing children. Cracking a window open does nothing to soften the blow of toxic fumes creeping into a child’s or any non-smoker’s lungs. Many are celebrating this step towards ensuring better health in children who can do little to escape the consequences of having an ignorant adult driving them around.

According to the new bill, if you are caught smoking in the presence of a child in a vehicle, you will be fined $1,000 the first time. The second time too warrants a fine of $1,000 to be paid. However, if you violate the law a third time you can say goodbye to the steep sum of $10,000. The fines have intentionally been made steep so as to ensure that the bill if passed as a law, can be more effectively enforced. There are more chances of individuals being mindful of the law if the risk associated with being caught in violation of it is significant enough to hurt.

Among those who are eagerly waiting for the bill to be passed is chief medical officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies. Her line of work has exposed to all manner of illnesses in children who have been overexposed to toxic secondhand smoke. A hopeful Davies commented, “This legislation is a landmark in protecting children from secondhand smoke. Smoking just a single cigarette in a vehicle exposes children to high levels of air pollutants and cancer-causing chemicals like arsenic, formaldehyde, and tar, and people often wrongly assume that opening a window, or letting in fresh air, will lessen the damage.”

In most extreme cases, secondhand smoke can eventually cause lung cancer. However, there are a host of other everyday health implications that arise as a result of this toxic habit. Children who are exposed to secondhand smoke often manifest symptoms like coughing, respiratory infections, and even asthma attacks. Some can even contract painful infections of the inner ear. All of this can very easily be avoided by taking care not to smoke in close proximity to them. This does not just mean in a car, but even at home. It isn’t fair that children need to pay the price for a habit that they never asked to be a part of.

A lot of people underestimate the mortality rate associated with secondhand smoking. Approximately 2.5 million people have stumbled into an early grave as a consequence of secondhand smoking since 1964 according to reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Perhaps if this new bill gets passed we can hope to arrest these climbing numbers. As of 2018, Arkansas, California, Louisiana, Maine, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, and Virginia are the American states that are leading the way to better health for children habitually exposed to secondhand smoke. They all have successfully passed laws that prohibit smoking in cars with children in it. Now, with Indiana possibly joining the list, maybe other states will follow too.

Meanwhile, England and Wales are winning the game, having already passed similar legislation as far back as 2015. They have also taken care to look out for all minors, and not just those below the age of 6. According to their law, it is illegal to smoke in a vehicle with passengers under the age of 18. It also holds the driver accountable for ensuring no one in the car violates this law. If found guilty, they would have to pay a fine of £50 which roughly equals $66. The only part where Indiana law will be tougher is with respect to the fines that can be levied against defaulters.

Jim Merritt, Indiana’s Republican state senator is hopeful that this campaign against secondhand smoking around children will help highlight the significance of safeguarding the health of a child. Merritt stated, “I want to say to mom and dad [that] this is not right … to be riding along in a car and getting secondhand smoke is just not acceptable for anyone but more so for children who just don’t have a choice.” Even though he acknowledges that enforcing the bill is not going to be an easy task, he feels its a great place to start. If the bill gets passed, it will be put into effect by July 2019.