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Government and Politics

The bill would ban smoking in cars that include passengers under age 6
If the bill passes, police could pull over and cite smokers with young children in their cars

Karen Kasler
Ohio Sen. Charleta Tavares says state law should help protect young children from second-hand smoke.
Courtesy of State of Ohio
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A central Ohio Democrat is once again proposing a bill that would ban smoking in a car that includes a passenger under 6 years old.

The measure from state Sen. Charleta Tavares of Columbus would allow police to pull over and cite smokers with young children in their cars, just as they can now pull over drivers not wearing seat belts or not using headlights when required.

Tavares says she has an answer for those who’d criticize the bill as being too intrusive.

LISTEN: Reasons for bill

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“I would say just as we have a responsibility in the public arena to protect the health and safety of our residents," Tavares said. "These are our youngest and most vulnerable residents. We have a responsibility.”

Tavares says kids under six are particularly vulnerable to the dangerous substances in cigarette smoke, and don’t have the ability to protest as older children and adults can. The bill has had one hearing so far. Tavares proposed a similar bill in the last General Assembly, but it didn’t even make it out of committee. Tavares says she feels the bill has a better chance of passing this time around, even with a Republican supermajority in the House.

LISTEN: Convincing lawmakers
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“There are legislators in both the Republican and caucus as well as the Democrat caucus that believe our responsibility is to protect children above all," Tavares said. "And the more evidence that people see about the impacts —t he negative impacts—I think we will have more that will come on board.”

Tavares says there are similar laws in Arkansas, Louisiana, California, Maine and Puerto Rico. The bill has had one hearing so far.

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