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Smoke Signal

Claim:   A new law taking effect in 2014 prohibits 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:   The graphic displayed above, warning viewers about a new law taking effect on 1 January 2014 that imposes a $250 for smoking in a car containing children under the age of 18, was widely circulated on Facebook in November 2013. Unfortunately, the context of where this law will
apply got lost along the way, leaving many viewers wondering if it will affect them or not.

This item does not reference a nationwide ban on smoking in automobiles; rather, it applies 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 establishes "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:   9 November 2013

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