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Smoke Signal

Claim:   A law under consideration in Florida would prohibit smoking in cars when children are present.


Examples:   [Collected via e-mail, November 2013]

This was posted on Facebook and I was wondering how true/accurate it is?


Origins:   In March 2015, a Florida state Senate committee passed a measure that would make it illegal to smoke in a car when any children under 13 years of age are present in the vehicle:
Soon, Florida smokers could be breaking the law and facing fines if they decide to light up with kids in the car.

"It is kind of like child abuse to subject a child to second hand smoke," said Laura Price.

The new law would ban people from smoking with anyone under age 13 in the car. A ban has the support from people like Donna Lavery.

"It should be your choice to smoke and nobody else's and they’re making that choice for their children," she said.
The Florida measure still needs to pass several legislative hurdles to be enacted as law.

The graphic displayed above, which circulated via social media in November 2013, warned viewers about a similar new law taking effect on 1 January 2014 that imposed a $250 for smoking in a car containing children under the age of 18. Unfortunately, the context of where this law was to
apply got lost along the way, leaving many viewers wondering if it would affect them or not.

That item did not reference a nationwide ban on smoking in automobiles; rather, it applied only to the state of Oregon, which passed legislation in June 2013 (to take effect on 1 January 2014) amending the state's vehicle code to include the offense of "smoking in a motor vehicle."

That amendation established "smoking in a motor vehicle while a person under 18 years of age is in the motor vehicle" as a traffic violation, but that portion of the vehicle code can be enforced by police only if a motorist has already been stopped for some other offense:
A person commits the offense of smoking in a motor vehicle if the person smokes in a motor vehicle while a person under 18 years of age is in the motor vehicle.

As used in this subsection, 'smokes' means to inhale, exhale, burn or carry a lighted cigarette, cigar, pipe, weed, plant, regulated narcotic or other combustible substance.

A police officer may enforce this section only if the police officer has already stopped and detained the driver operating the motor vehicle for a separate traffic violation or other offense.
Several other states (Arkansas, California, Louisiana, Maine, and Utah) already have similar laws on their books, although most of them specify lower age limits (they may apply only when a vehicle contains a passenger under the age of 13, for example).

Last updated:   7 April 2015

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