SALEM - A State Senator who’s also a doctor and a mom wants to make it illegal for parents to smoke while kids are riding in the car.
State Senator Elizabeth Steiner-Hayward is proposing smoking in a car with kids as a secondary offense, meaning you’d have to first be pulled over for something else like speeding.
A first offense would carry a $250 fine, a second would be $500 and a third violation would cost $1,000.
“Smoke tends to pool in the backseat which is where we want our kids to be for safety but they’re really getting a double whammy,” said Steiner-Hayward. “In the time it takes to smoke half a cigarette the level of toxins in a car exceeds by 10 times the level recommended by the EPA.”
She points to research showing increased problems with asthma and frequent ear infections for children exposed to second hand smoke.
“In a car, the level of toxins can be 27 times higher than in the house.” Steiner-Hayward will present the bill to a committee on Thursday and hopes it will be sent on for a full Senate vote and then on to the full legislature.
Four states currently have laws prohibiting smoking with a child in the car.
Critics say it’s too intrusive and question whether lawmakers should regulate bad parenting.
“In Oregon, it’s already illegal to smoke in a car with a foster child so why shouldn’t we offer that protection to every child in Oregon,” the senator concluded.