Tobacco

If You're Going to Speed, Don't Smoke

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California has joined the growing list of jurisdictions that prohibit smoking in vehicles carrying children, which is now an infraction punishable by a $100 fine. Perhaps embarrassed at following Arkansas' lead in this area, California's legislators outdid the Natural State's by covering all passengers under 18. The Arkansas ban, by contrast, applies only to cars with passengers who are under 6 and weigh less than 60 pounds, the same passengers who are required to ride in child safety seats. That arbitrary-seeming scope actually makes some sense, since the evidence that secondhand smoke impairs children's health (by making them more prone to earaches and lower respiratory infections) relates to very small kids, not to older children and teenagers. And the Arkansas ban may actually be tougher, on balance, because police can pull people over for violating it. Under the new California law, police can cite smokers only after pulling them over for other reasons. Then again, California's ban opens up the possibility of stopping a 17-year-old for speeding, then ticketing his 18-year-old friend for endangering the driver by smoking in the backseat.

As I've said before, while smoking in a car with children in it may be inconsiderate or unwise, the level of risk it poses is not serious enough to justify state intervention. The same goes for smoking at home, where children of smokers get most of their secondhand smoke exposure. Yet I have little doubt that car smoking bans will soon be as ubiquitous as restaurant smoking bans, and it seems only a matter of time before parents who smoke at home are treated as child abusers.

[via The Rest of the Story]

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  1. If I read another “it’s for the children” story this week I’m going to fucking puke.

  2. Then again, California’s ban opens up the possibility of stopping a 17-year-old for speeding, then ticketing his 18-year-old friend for endangering the driver by smoking in the backseat.

    what if the 17 year old is the one who is smoking?

  3. How long before it’s a primary offense, and the officers can pull you over and search your car for “suspected smoking”?

    After that, how long before it’s illegal to drive in any manner other than radio off, eyes forward, hands at 10 and 2, windows up, and climate control set to an ecologically friendly 75 degrees?

  4. How would a 17 year old be smoking? Isn’t that illegal?

  5. Perhaps embarrassed at following Arkansas’ lead in this area,

    pure gold, Jacob! Pure gold!

  6. Children killed yearly in auto accidents: thousands
    Children killed yearly by second-hand smoke in autos: Um, zero.

  7. This is one of the issues I have the hardest time arguing against. They always throw to me “well, do you want kids to die?” and then I stutter for a little bit and shut up.

  8. Snarking in here. I can’t wait for the war on tobacco. I want to see ATF raids on teenagers hiding in the shadows and smoking their tobacco. Orange jumpsuit, perpwalks, that’ll teach them.

  9. Devil’s advocacy:

    Do parents always know and do what is best for their children? If a child is abused by parents, should the rest of society stand watching?

  10. Smoking in front of children is the worst form of child abuse there is. Period, end of discussion.

  11. This is one of the issues I have the hardest time arguing against. They always throw to me “well, do you want kids to die?” and then I stutter for a little bit and shut up.

    That’s easy. Just say “Yes.”. And after they stare blankly at you for 30 seconds say, “Now, are you going to ask a real question, or more worthless hyperbole?”

  12. The whole “unreasonable search and seizure” concept is fundamentally dead, because most people need to drive to go anywhere outside a major city (and many still drive within them). And since the reasons cops can pull you over for keep expanding, it’s getting to the point where cops can pull you over at will.

    I knew a guy who was pulled over by a cop at night. The reason? His “brights were on”–except they weren’t. He asked the cop flat out why he was really pulled over and the cop admitted that it was an excuse to grab people who might have been drinking.

  13. Do parents always know and do what is best for their children? If a child is abused by parents, should the rest of society stand watching?

    Maybe the sticking point is what constitutes “abuse.” Most would argue that measurable, objective harm must occur in order for there to be abuse. In this case, I don’t think it qualifies.

  14. Les:

    In this case, I don’t think it qualifies.

    But clearly the people of California and Arkansas did. I really do not have the numbers and would not care either, since I do not smoke. But I have often heard that second hand smoking is very dangerous to one’s health.

    I am interested to see Jacob Sullum’s justification of the statement:

    As I’ve said before, while smoking in a car with children in it may be inconsiderate or unwise, the level of risk it poses is not serious enough to justify state intervention.

  15. But I think he provides all the reasons in the link at the end of the post. Will read it. Sorry Jacob!

  16. How long before it’s a primary offense, and the officers can pull you over and search your car for “suspected smoking”?

    Not long, but that’s beside the point even now given that any cop can claim you failed to signal a turn or something anytime they want, since they’ll get away with doing this to anyone who doesn’t have the time to contest it in court, which is almost everyone, and even if you do it’s a near automatic win for the cop if he simply shows up and reads the citation aloud, since the defendant has no practical way of identifying and summoning the other drivers who may have witnessed the stop, not that they were paying attention anyway.

    Secondary enforcement infractions = more reasons for cops to perjure themselve to creating a primary infraction for pretext.

  17. America’s downfall will be the “pussyfication” of its future generations.

  18. But clearly the people of California and Arkansas did. I really do not have the numbers and would not care either, since I do not smoke. But I have often heard that second hand smoking is very dangerous to one’s health.

    If secondhand smoke were as dangerous as people now claim, then at least 75 percent of all Americans above the age of 30 should have multiple severe smoke-related health problems these days. I remember when ashtrays were ubiquitous in all sorts of waiting rooms and smoking was allowed in damned near every restaurant there was. Everyone who was a child before 1985 should have lung cancer or emphysema right now.

  19. How long before it’s a primary offense, and the officers can pull you over and search your car for “suspected smoking”?

    It’s already a sign cops use to identify you as a good pullover for DUI. Smokers are less likely to be able to afford decent lawyers.

  20. Everyone who was a child before 1985 should have lung cancer or emphysema right now.

    Look, Jennifer, if you’re saying the Surgeon General was wrong, then you’re just a Denier. The science is settled!(tm)

  21. Shut up, Ed, or I’ll exhale my cigarette smoke in your direction and then cackle with glee as I watch you instantly drop dead.

  22. Anyone that choses to live in California deserves whatever happens to them.

    Freaking liberal wennies.

  23. I have an idea: Let’s force the smokers to wear little pieces of flair signifying their humiliating condition so The Children may flee at their approach.

    I’m thinking a Star of David would be a nice touch.

  24. But I have often heard that second hand smoking is very dangerous to one’s health.

    I think there is evidence that it can affect one’s health, but not that it’s more damaging than, say, eating poorly.

    I mean, we agree that the more time one spends in a car, the higher the risk of being injured or killed in an accident. At this rate, the government will decide there’s a legal amount of time parents can drive with their kids in the car and that parents who drive around a lot with their kids are being abusive.

  25. But clearly the people of California and Arkansas did.

    I wasn’t aware these prohibitions were passed in popular referendums. If not, then I think you are whrong to claim that “the people” of these states did anything. More accurate to say that the ruling class did, for reasons of its own.

  26. I mean, we agree that the more time one spends in a car, the higher the risk of being injured or killed in an accident. At this rate, the government will decide there’s a legal amount of time parents can drive with their kids in the car and that parents who drive around a lot with their kids are being abusive.

    No, I don’t have a study handy. I doubt one has ever been done. Now that that’s out of the way, I’ll wager that statistically, two hours a week in a moving automobile is more hazardous to childre than two smoking parents. Let’s go with the years of life lost measure on this one. Unfortunately, although we have fairly reliable stats on the dangers of automobile travel, we’ve got bupkis on second hand smoke exposure. Oh well, make a law anyway.

  27. Good point, Jennifer (@ 12:52).

    Les: I would like to see the numbers (still did not get a chance to read Jacob’s older article — for tonight).

    R C Dean: I was a bit loose when I said “people of California”. But the governor did signed the bill. Last time I checked, Californians still do elect their governors.

  28. I’m still waiting for the first wave of second hand smoke deaths to come rolling in. Shouldn’t there be a couple of generations’ worth of bodies by now? We’ve had how many generations of kids raised in smoking households? Not to mention all the waitresses and bartenders who spent decades in smoky establishments. When are they going to start dying of second hand smoke disease?

  29. Or in other words…. what jennifer said. Sorry, hadn’t read all the comments above.

  30. Let’s force the smokers to wear little pieces of flair signifying their humiliating condition so The Children may flee at their approach.

    No, ed, because then teh evil smokers might sneak up on the precious young ones and exhale smoke on them. They clearly need to be belled like lepers so the children can hear them coming.

  31. Bells would be funny.

  32. Bells would be funny.

    The tobacco companies would probably work it into the marketing. You could get premium fashion bells with a carton, cheaper ones with 3-packs, etc.

  33. Yet I have little doubt that car smoking bans will soon be as ubiquitous as restaurant smoking bans, and it seems only a matter of time before parents who smoke at home are treated as child abusers.

    Jacob — smoking at home could be illegal under this law, depending on the wording. Does this law apply if you smoke in a mobile home or Winnebago-type vehicle? Does it matter if the home is moving at the time of the infraction? Does it matter if the home is capable of moving at the time of the infraction?

  34. The tobacco companies would probably work it into the marketing.

    As long as they don’t put cartoon characters on the bells.
    For you-know-who.

  35. A 17-year-old driving? Now THAT sounds dangerous.

  36. If Reason didn’t hate children so much this law wouldn’t have to be passed.

  37. I love how people still can’t get over the fact that banning smoking in specific places has nothing to do with violating your rights. It also has nothing to do with communism, big government, or any other ridiculous excuse avoiding the facts.

    Banning smoking in public places is a health issue, one that is fairly proven at this point, smokers rights don’t trump public health. In fact, smokers don’t have the right to smoke at all, especially not when exposing others to 2nd hand smoke just to avoid going outside.

    Same thing goes for cars, parents who expose their children to 2nd hand smoke are committing child abuse.

  38. Children cannot raise their voice against the 250 known carcinogens that they breathe in when exposed to secondhand smoke. Because their bodies are developing, infants and young children are especially vulnerable to these poisons.

    Last year, 42,642 people were killed in the U.S. as a result of car crashes (2006 Annual Assessment of Motor Vehicle Crashes). But did you know that last year, 53,800 people were killed as a result of secondhand smoke? That’s right, secondhand smoke contributes to deaths from heart disease (48,500), lung cancer (3,000), & Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (2,300) annually (CDC, MMWR).
    In addition, cigarettes may be sold legally, but so is alcohol. Drinking and driving contributes to the motor vehicle crashes in this country and is illegal behavior. Giving tobacco or alcohol to a child is also illegal. Many are surprised to learn that children who are exposed to secondhand smoke are inhaling the same cancer causing substances as if they were smoking the cigarette (U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services). At times, the government needs to step in to protect the “personal rights” of everyone, including those who would like to breathe without inhaling poisons.

    Every individual has the right to choose to smoke, but that right does not trump the right of individuals to breathe clean air.

  39. Banning smoking in public places is a health issue, one that is fairly proven at this point

    But did you know that last year, 53,800 people were killed as a result of secondhand smoke? That’s right, secondhand smoke contributes to deaths from heart disease (48,500), lung cancer (3,000), & Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (2,300) annually (CDC, MMWR).

    Baloney. SHS has never been proven to cause any illness, unless your idea of proof is biased statistical analyses purchased by the anti-smoker zealots and their allies.

    What this is about is using the power of the gov’t to de facto outlaw something many people don’t like and don’t think other people should do.

    This whole “problem” is solved with nothing more than an open window, which most smokers do whether anyone else is in the car or not.

    By the way, your rights are exactly the same as any smoker’s. Neither party is a protected class under the law. You have no more right to “clean” air than I do to smokey air and vice versa.

  40. Mike, I think you may be in denial.

    In response to:
    “SHS has never been proven to cause any illness, unless your idea of proof is biased statistical analyses purchased by the anti-smoker zealots and their allies.”

    The Surgeon General came out with an extensive report on the effects of secondhand smoke last year, and said there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke, I would suggest you read it. Also, there are over 4,000 chemicals in cigarettes, 250 which are proven to be carcinogenic. In addition, the resources listed are based on proven scientific evidence, not just someone’s opinion. I think allowing the science to speak for itself is much more credible than the opinion of someone with no evidence to back it up.

    In response to:
    “By the way, your rights are exactly the same as any smoker’s. Neither party is a protected class under the law. You have no more right to “clean” air than I do to smokey air and vice versa.”

    The American Disabilities Act actually does protect the right of people with breathing disabilities to breathe clean air.

    In response to:
    “This whole “problem” is solved with nothing more than an open window, which most smokers do whether anyone else is in the car or not.”

    Cigarette smoke does not just “dissipate” into the air outside, whether you are holding it out the window or just standing outside. PM2.5 is a toxic pollutant produced by cigarettes, wood-burning stoves, diesel engines and other forms of combustion. It contains benzo(a)pyrene, a carcinogen, and many other toxic chemicals that can penetrate deep inside the lungs.

    The current EPA ambient air standard for PM2.5 is 35?g/m? of air averaged over 24 hours. Levels that exceed that are considered unhealthy.

    A recent study by Stanford researchers found that if an individual were exposed to multiple cigarettes over several hours in an outdoor setting, it would be possible to get a daily average of 35?g/m? or more, exceeding the EPA standard, potential exposure could equal that of a smoky bar.

    I do feel it is an individual’s right to choose to smoke, but that does not mean it is okay to hurt someone else in the process.

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