Tobacco

As Arkansas Goes, So Goes Maine

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This week the Bangor City Council voted to prohibit smoking in vehicles occupied by anyone under 18. Smoking with minors in the car will be a primary offense, meaning police can pull drivers over if they witness it. A.P. explains why:

People who smoke with children present in the confined space of a car or truck might as well be deliberately trying to kill those children, said City Councilor Patricia Blanchette, who is a smoker.

"Let's step up to the plate and lead; our children are worth the fight," she said.

This may be the first time Maine has copied a public health policy pioneered by Arkansas. Bangor has a higher age cutoff (18 vs. 7) and a bigger fine ($50 vs. $25) than the Natural State. The broad definition of "children" gives police an excuse to pull over any car occupied by teenagers if one of them is smoking. But a $50 fine still seems like a pretty light punishment for attempted murder. And why is it OK to kill your kids at home (where most secondhand smoke exposure occurs) but not in the car? I guess Blanchette's position is that people can kill their children, as long as she doesn't have to see it.

[via The Rest of the Story]

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  1. This sounds ripe for abuse. People don’t walk around with their ages tattooed on their forehead. How is a cop going to know if a person is under 18 and not just a youthful looking adult.

    This will just give them more reason to pull people over unnecessarily.

  2. And so ended freedom, not with a bang, but with a cancerous sigh.

  3. I wonder how many accidents happen when the driver is fooling with the cigarette lighter. That seems like a more valid concern than the second hand smoke.

  4. I’m still waiting on the legislation whereby going through the McDonald’s drive-thru with minors in the car will be deemed illegal because of the health risks associated with feeding children french fries.

    I’m guessing I won’t have to wait much longer.

  5. What makes you think it won’t soon be illegal to smoke inside your home when children are present? After that, it will be made illegal to smoke inside your home with any adult, even a fellow smoker, present. Finally, it will be made illegal to smoke inside any enclosure, or within 100 ft. thereof.

  6. I just can’t wait to read about the 18-year-old senior on a date with his 17-year-old senior girlfriend and after dinner at the Olive Garden they get in the car and smoke, he gets pulled over, he gets a ticket, and she doesn’t.

  7. Sam,

    If you’re a smoker and you can’t light up without taking your eye off the road, you’re a complete moron totally resistant to conditional learning. The only time the lighter is an issue is if you’re driving an unfamiliar vehicle, and even then you can do it as easily as changing the radio station.

    The real (and thankfully rare) risk is when you drop a ciggie or an ember in your lap or on the floor where the immediate and instinctual response is to flail at it like a panicky toddler. Think of The Dude in the Big Lebowsky when he tried to throw his roach out of his closed window and it bounced back.

  8. Me? I’m waiting for the days when it extends beyond the car to your own home. After all, your home is a confined space too. If it’s child abuse in your car, why not in your home too?

    Maybe we can institute a fun new curriculum in school encouraging Janie and Junior to rat out mom and dad if they catch them lighting up evil tobacco in the house. Or force mom and dad to record the food and portion size they feed their kids on a daily basis and turn in a notorized copy to their kid’s teacher on a weekly basis?

  9. I just can’t wait to read about the 18-year-old senior on a date with his 17-year-old senior girlfriend and after dinner at the Olive Garden they get in the car and smoke, he gets pulled over, he gets a ticket, and she doesn’t.

    He’ll get at least two tickets. One for smoking in a car with a minor and one for giving tobacco to a minor.

  10. I have no time for this issue either way, but I can’t suffer piles of burning straw like the following to go unmolested:

    “And why is it OK to kill your kids at home (where most secondhand smoke exposure occurs) but not in the car?”

    It might have something to do with the many ways that a house and car differ…umm multiple rooms, more space in general, I don’t know.

    One example: me–sickly asthmatic with a nasty tobacco allergy, stepfather–chainsmoker of Benson and Hedges Menthols. Me–smokefree basement bedroom, stepfather–smokefilled room on the third floor.

    Hell, I guess there is no difference whatsoever. Hectic morning, Jacob? Your stuff is usually solid.

  11. our children are worth the fight,” [City Councilor Patricia Blanchette] said

    To the best of my recollection she and I have never fucked. Who are these “our” children that she is referring to? My wife and I have “our” children, if the gods are particularly cruel she has “her” children. And since when is smoking, which when done properly for a lifetime still only produces a 20% chance of contracting lung cancer for the smoker, deliberately trying to kill?children?

    stepfather–chainsmoker of Benson and Hedges Menthols

    Pinko, that sounds like an issue between you and your stepfather, not your stepfather and the state. Assuming you are saying he did smoke with you in the car, would the presence this law made your situation better?

  12. Finally, it will be made illegal to smoke inside any enclosure, or within 100 ft. thereof.

    And all the while, the uber-evil cigarettes will remain legal…cause banning them outright would take real principle, seldom found in our elected or hysterically do-gooder classes.

  13. And banning them outright would cut into tax revenue, which would cut into school funding (or whatever your state does with the taxes).

  14. Would this law apply to a convertible with the top down?

  15. Good question, violent_k. Also, what about the Pontiac G6 model with the panoramic sun roof? What about farm equipment that is allowed to be driven on roads? Maybe they’ll just leave those things to be worked out in the courts.

  16. pinko,

    Sorry, but there is no requirement for the world to fit itself and its laws to your unfortunate condition.

    And banning them outright would cut into tax revenue

    What delicious irony. My state (NY) is so high on its astronomical cig tax that the govt would likely collapse without it. It’s going to be interesting watching our elected officials’ heads explode from the contradiction. “Ban smoking! Uh, don’t ban smoking!”

  17. What makes you think it won’t soon be illegal to smoke inside your home

    That’s certainly in the cards, but I predict the next logical step will be a ban on smoking within 1000 feet of a church or schoolhouse.

  18. Threads like this one become a sort of libertarian paranoia session.

    Like all new ideas, the merits of banning smoking around kids can and should be debated, but all anybody sees here is a nefarious government looking for new ways to harass people. For whatever reason.

  19. From Jacob Sullum’s original post:

    The broad definition of “children” gives police an excuse to pull over any car occupied by teenagers if one of them is smoking.

    Actually, it gives them a reason to pull over that car, not an excuse. If a cop just felt like pulling somebody over for no reason, he could just make something up.

    But a $50 fine still seems like a pretty light punishment for attempted murder.

    True, but Patricia Blanchette’s overblown analogy aside, nobody’s seriously saying that it’s anywhere in the same league as attempted murder.

    And why is it OK to kill your kids at home (where most secondhand smoke exposure occurs) but not in the car?

    It’s not really okay but one difference is that the inside of a car is a small, enclosed area.

    I guess Blanchette’s position is that people can kill their children, as long as she doesn’t have to see it.

    Yes, Jacob, that’s her position obviously. Great analysis.

  20. “For whatever reason.”

    call it the delicious gravity of destiny.

  21. “Threads like this one become a sort of libertarian paranoia session.”

    True, but you could say that about every thread of a particular political sentiment, which misses the point. In pointing out the details of how banning something evolves through a series of innocuous steps, it can be demonstrated to be nefarious. In other words it never stops at a reasonable point, like say, only adults can smoke.

  22. “Actually, it gives them a reason to pull over that car, not an excuse. If a cop just felt like pulling somebody over for no reason, he could just make something up.”

    Ok, it gives them a reason to pull over that car, then an excuse to ask you your business, run your record, search your vehicle, etc.

    “True, but Patricia Blanchette’s overblown analogy aside, nobody’s seriously saying that it’s anywhere in the same league as attempted murder.”

    Probably not, but many anti-smoking loons think it’s tantamount to child abuse.

    “It’s not really okay but one difference is that the inside of a car is a small, enclosed area.”

    I saw no indication that’s part of their reasoning. Hell, while we’re making arm-chair scientific claims, you could make the argument that smoking in your house is actually worse because most people spend alot more time in their house.

    “Yes, Jacob, that’s her position obviously. Great analysis.”

    Likewise, asshat.

  23. This is coming to a town near you. I heard someone from the Clean Air Council (Phila.) this morning agree (to my question) that after they ban workplace smoking they intend to go after private vehicles and private homes if
    “the children” are involved. He didn’t disagree when I asked him if they should just cut to the chase and outlaw smoking because of the “alleged” (my word, not his) dangers of second hand smoke.

  24. Ok, it gives them a reason to pull over that car, then an excuse to ask you your business, run your record, search your vehicle, etc.

    Does it, really? This strikes me as paranoia as much as anything that’s likely to happen.


    Probably not, but many anti-smoking loons think it’s tantamount to child abuse.

    Smoking around children certainly is a form of child abuse, albeit a fairly minor one.

    I saw no indication that’s part of their reasoning. Hell, while we’re making arm-chair scientific claims, you could make the argument that smoking in your house is actually worse because most people spend alot more time in their house.

    Read again – Blanchette’s statement referred to the “confined space” of a car. It’s sort of common sense that you’ll breathe in more secondhand smoke in a small, enclosed area than a more open one.

  25. Threads like this one become a sort of libertarian paranoia session.

    Is it paranoia when someone really is out to get you?

  26. “…our children are worth the fight.”

    I would like to propose a constitutional amendment that no, they’re not.

  27. A car moving at 50 or 60 miles per hour with one window cracked open to let cigarette smoke escape is likely to have cleaner air inside than a large immobile house whose windows are all closed because it’s winter.

  28. LA ban on smoking in cars was effective Aug. 15, 2006.

    BATON ROUGE — Smoking in a car or truck where there are children will soon become a costly proposition in Louisiana under legislation signed this week by Gov. Kathleen Blanco.
    The governor signed House Bill 1010 by Rep. Gary Smith, D-Norco, which allows police to ticket drivers who are smoking in vehicles with children 12 and younger.
    Starting Aug. 15, violators will face fines of up to $150 or a minimum of 24 hours of community service.

    In TX, law proposed to ban smoking in homes where foster children are present.

    http://www.click2houston.com/family/6439254/detail.html

    In San Mateo, they are trying to ban smoking in apartments.

    At a meeting Tuesday, the council unanimously directed the city attorney to draft an ordinance that would prohibit smoking in apartments, on streets, in parks – virtually everywhere but in detached single-family homes.

    http://www.sanmateodailynews.com/article/2006-11-16-bm-smoking

  29. If outlawing smoking means an end to broadcasting anti-smoking commercials every 10 minutes, sign me up!

  30. Re: enclosed spaces, I’ve been smoking for years and been around other smokers for years, and not once have I seen a smoker driving down the road with a lit cigarette and the 4 windows closed, even in winter. With even one window cracked, the smoke blows out of the car immediately. Whereas, in a house the smoke lingers. (That’s why I smoke on the balcony.)

    To the extent there is any danger from second-hand smoke, that danger would be greater in a home than in a car. That will be the next step–they’ll ban smoking in private homes where minors live or are present, and communal living (apartments, condos) altogether.

  31. “Sorry, but there is no requirement for the world to fit itself and its laws to your unfortunate condition.”

    Rhywun,
    Point to the place where I asked the world to fit itself and its laws to my unfortunate condition. Or hey, just continue to make up shit to keep yourself entertained.

  32. “With even one window cracked, the smoke blows out of the car immediately. Whereas, in a house the smoke lingers.”

    Nope. Not true at all. Again, I could care less about this issue, but everyone here is laying the shit on pretty thick. So, I can pass gas in the car as long as the window is cracked, right? Because no one will smell it, right? Sounds pretty fucking retarded to me. It doesn’t all go out the window. Whoever else is in the car breathes a good part of it. While it should be entirely up to those in the car to make that decision, I call complete bullshit on all this slippery-slope handwringing. Ask a nonsmoker next time if they caught any of your second-hand smoke next time you are in the car, and you will likely get a different answer.

  33. I thought the problem was the smoke, not the odor. The smoke gets pulled right out of the car, just as a fart would if you had your naked ass right next to the window.

    As far as slippery slopes:

    They banned smoking on domestic flights shorter than two hours.
    Then they banned smoking on all domestic flights.
    Then they banned smoking on all international flights.
    Then they banned smoking in public areas of government office buildings.
    Then they banned smoking in private areas of government office buildings, except in designated areas.
    Then they banned the designated smoking areas in government office buildings.
    Then they banned smoking in public areas of privately-owned office buildings.
    Then they banned smoking in private areas of privately-owned office buildings, except in designated areas.
    Then they banned the designated smoking areas in privately-owned office buildings.
    Then they banned smoking within 25 feet of the doorway to any office building.
    Then they banned smoking in indoor arenas, except in designated areas.
    Then they banned the designated smoking areas in indoor arenas.
    Then they banned smoking in open air stadiums, except in designated areas.
    Then they banned the designated smoking areas in open air stadiums.
    Then they required restaurants to have designated non-smoking areas.
    Then they banned smoking in restaurants.
    Then they banned smoking inside bars.
    Then they banned smoking on outdoor patios of bars.
    Then they banned smoking at beaches and public parks.
    And now they’re going after cars, and as miche points out above, in apartments and all other spaces except detached, single family homes.
    And don’t forget the FDA attempt to assert jurisdiction over tobacco companies for selling “nicotine delivery systems”, which was ultimately denied by the courts, but not before most cigarette companies voluntarily agreed to restrictions on the marketing of their products.
    And of course there is the state AGs cases against the tobacco companies on behalf of Medicaid programs.

    This slippery slope is so obvious even you could look down your nose at it, err, see it.

  34. “The smoke gets pulled right out of the car”

    No, not all the smoke gets pulled right out of the car. I’ve done this experiment. Again, ask that person next to you or behind you who chose not to light up if that happened. If they are not spitting out the ashes that your perfect technique left floating in their direction in the backseat, they’ll probably say, yeah I’m still getting some of it.

    As for the naked ass and the fart you mentioned, you will still get some of this foul air I assure you. That’s why, unless I’m having a contest with my buddy in his well-ventilated jeep, in much the same way as you might might be smoking amongst friends, I wait until I’m out of the fucking car. I’m never going to be a total moron about it all and pretend like it doesn’t matter to the others around who share this largely enclosed space. In fact, most smokers I know are in agreement that this habit intrudes upon the “liberties” of others. Isn’t that the litmus test, or am I missing something?
    Certain localities will always go overboard on the issues. I honestly don’t give a fuck what Arkansas and Maine decide to do. Isn’t federalism another of those favorite libertarianism chestnuts? There you go, there’s your laboratory. State-level govt’s making their own decisions. That ought arouse people who call themselves liberatarians in a positive way, right?

    Really limp performance on a losing issue, this besieged smokers thing. I’m sure the same whining went on when indoor spitting was deemed unacceptable in public spaces. Poor things.

  35. Actually, I don’t smoke around non-smokers, out of courtesy. Just imagine, it doesn’t require a sheriff to get me to do that.

    Procedure for the 24-36 hour period between when the dog eats something non-digestible and when he excretes it:

    If he farts in the car, open the windows, problem solved.
    If he farts in the house, open windows (weather permitting), turn on a fan, spray air freshener and leave the room for five minutes. Repeat as necesssary.

    It is simply easier to clear the air in a car than in a house.

    And if someone wants to open a hotel, restuarant or bar catering to indoor spitters, with or without spitoons, let them.

  36. Since I am quite literally on slippery slopes I want to chime in again. The family and I are in Jackson Hole, WY skiing and having a blast. One thinks of Wyoming and likely pictures cowboy types living life on their own terms. Not true anymore. We are staying at our fav hotel here, and I cannot smoke anywhere warmer than -10f. Thankfully I am not a heavy smoker- wind chill is something like -30 and I have to really think about standing on the balcony of a five star resort to get a puff. There are no smoker friendly places in Teton Village anymore. I told my husband (a cigar smoker) that this may have to be our last trip here. He reminded me that we may have to quit skiing or smoking because most cities are turning to smoking bans.

    I will be searching for ski destinations with smoker friendly hotels. If you have suggestions, let me know.

  37. Smoking is a personal choice. As for those who don’t smoke and don’t like it, then don’t do it. Teach your children as best as you can why they shouldn’t smoke. And if smoking is such a national problem, I mean it’s not like there is anything worse that people could be doing with their time than smoking, but if it is so bad then simply outlaw it and shut-up about it. America is about individuality right? Or is individuality actually based on what popular fads introduce into our lives. I remember a time when smoking was considered a fashionable fad. I say get over it and just walk away.

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