No smoking if kids are in the car: Tempe proposal fines violators

There are many laws against smoking, but a proposal in Tempe adds a new wrinkle: fines for drivers who light up with children in the car.

Some places around the country already have similar laws.  Could it happen here?

Under the new proposal, Tempe police would not be out looking for smokers puffing away with kids in the car.  Here's how the fine would work: If you get pulled over for something else in Tempe while you're driving with a child in your car and the police officer detects tobacco smoke, you could be fined.

The idea behind the proposal: everyone knows cigarette smoking is dangerous, so why should kids be subjected to it in cars and trucks.

"One in five kids in Arizona is in a vehicle with someone smoking on a weekly basis.  The health effects are clear and are really undisputed," said Tempe City Councilperson David Schapira.  "Our goal right now is to ensure that as part of our package of child endangerment laws, we include a ban on smoking in cars with children present in the city of Tempe."

We hit the streets of Tempe -- on Mill Avenue to be specific, to ask folks what they think of this proposal.  Some people say it's just good common sense.

"Well because that could border on child abuse, you are infecting their young lungs with something that is not their choice," said Shannon Murphy.

At the A&A Smoke Shop, we got some perspective on why some smokers wouldn't like the idea.

"Depending on the ticket, I think in a certain aspect of it should be up to the people's personal preference.. up to their own decision," said Tyler Debord.

But Debord says smokers have a duty to protect kids.

"We do not smoke when we're in cars with kids at all. It's one of those things as smokers, we don't want the kids to see us smoking and be influenced at a young age to smoke."

We received a call from Robert Best, the Western Regional Director of a smoker's rights group called The Smoker's Club.  He says they have no connection to the tobacco industry.

Mr. Best's statement:
This is a non-issue. I don't know a parent who's going to smoke in the car with their kids.   It is another attack on smokers because we are the "evil" people in the world today. We should worry about the homeless and people out of work instead of people smoking in their cars. Instead of racial profiling will we start smoker profiling?

The Tempe City Council is studying the proposal and may vote on it in April.

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