Oregon Legislature Bans Smoking In Cars With Minors Present

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Oregon smokers who decide to have a cigarette with kids in the car might soon be ticketed for lighting up.

The Oregon House passed a bill prohibiting smoking in a car when minors under the age of 18 are present. The House passed Senate Bill 444 on Monday with a 43-15 vote, and it will now move on to Gov. John Kitzhaber’s desk.

Police will be able to ticket smokers if they were pulled over for another offense. The violation would cost $250 for the first offense and $500 for subsequent offenses.

Supporters of the bill say it will protect children from secondhand smoke. Opponents have argued the state should not restrict what drivers do in their own cars, OregonLive reported.

Rep. Mitch Greenlick is supportive of the measure.

“I think this bill is really an important bill,” Greenlick said.

Rep. Jim Thompson also thinks it is important to reduce the public’s exposure to secondhand smoke.

“This is a bill whose time has come,” Thompson said. “We clearly know the effects of secondhand smoke on health.”

Rep. Jeff Barker is against the bill because it makes smoking in cars a secondary offense, and many police departments ask their officers to issue only one ticket per traffic stop.

“If this is that important, it shouldn’t be a secondary offense," Barker said. “It should be a primary offense.”

Gov. Kitzhaber said he will sign the bill into law.

Sources: OregonLive, San Francisco Chronicle