Last week, the Georgia State Senate passed Senate Bill 130, the "Smokefree Cars for Children Act". Basically, if a person under the age of 15 is a passenger in a car, no one is allowed to smoke in the car. The car's driver is held responsible for enforcing this, and if found guilty, would be charged with a misdemeanor and possibly fined up to $100.
When I first read about this, I was torn because while I completely agree with banning smoking in a car with children, I feel trepidation about the government making rules about with regards to parenting. There is a slippery slope waiting for us to fall down, where the government goes from passing laws about activities with no redeeming qualities (aka smoking) to passing laws about activities where parental judgment is required (e.g. how old is old enough to walk around a neighborhood) to passing laws in which the government has no right to comment (e.g. telling you which religion you must belong to if you want to have children).
But the other side of the coin involves treating children as if they are the property of their parents, with all the horrible implications of "property". And to be honest, I think our society leans too far towards treating children as property instead of providing children with their own set of rights and responsibilities.
So in the end, I celebrate this particular bill and hope it will become a law this year, because I see this as society protecting children from a damaging situation. But I will continue to watch what bills come out of the state Congress, because staying off the slippery slope requires vigilance from all of use.
Verbiage from Georgia General Assembly website:
8 SECTION 1.
9 This Act shall be known and may be cited as the "Smokefree Cars for Children Act."
10 SECTION 2.
11 Article 1 of Chapter 6 of Title 40 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to
12 general provisions relative to the uniform rules of the road, is amended by adding a new
13 Code section to read as follows:
15 (a) As used in this Code section, the term 'smoke' means to inhale, exhale, burn, or carry
16 a lighted cigarette, cigar, pipe, weed, plant, regulated narcotic, or other combustible
18 (b) A person who is the driver of or is in control of a motor vehicle that is required to be
19 registered under this title, whether or not such motor vehicle is being driven on the public
20 ways or is stopped on a public or private way, commits the offense of smoking in a motor
21 vehicle if the person smokes or permits another occupant of the motor vehicle to smoke in
22 such motor vehicle while a person under 15 years of age is in the motor vehicle; provided,
23 however, that a person shall not be charged with a violation of this subsection alone, but
24 may be charged with violating this subsection in addition to any other traffic offense.
25 (c) A violation of this Code section shall be a misdemeanor punishable by a fine not to
26 exceed $100.00." 15 LC 21 3672 S. B. 130 - 2 -
27 SECTION 3.
28 All laws and parts of laws in conflict with this Act are repealed.