by Jade Small

Indiana Plans To Join Eight Other States In The US In Banning Smoking In Vehicles With Children Inside – With Fines Of Up To $10,000

Second hand smoke is dangerous, especially to children, putting them at risk of stunted growth, middle ear infections, respiratory problems and asthma to name a few. Indiana’s new proposed bill plans hefty fines to deter adults from smoking with children trapped in cars.

Despite anti-smoking campaigns and warnings on cigarette packs over decades, which seems to have had the result of fewer new smokers starting the habit, proposed bill would make it illegal to light up with children below the age of six in the car with you. If caught, hefty fines would be issued in the hope of educating adults of the reality of the serious health hazards of exposing children to second hand smoke. This legislation is applauded by many to ensure better health for children who suffer the consequences of ignorant adults.

New Indiana bill would fine adults $1,000 for smoking with kids in car

According to the new bill, a fine of $1,000 will be issued for a first and second offence of smoking in the presence of a child in a vehicle. A third offence will result in a $10,000 fine, an intentionally high sum to ensure that, if passed, the law can be effectively enforced.

Professor Dame Sally Davies is among those eagerly waiting for the bill to be passed, has had firsthand experience in her line of work with illnesses in children who have been exposed to second hand smoke. Professor Davies commented, “This legislation is a landmark in protecting children from second hand smoke. Smoking just a single cigarette in a vehicle exposes children to high levels of air pollutants and cancer-causing chemicals like arsenic, formaldehyde, and tar, and people often wrongly assume that opening a window, or letting in fresh air, will lessen the damage.”

 

In extreme cases, second hand smoke can eventually cause lung cancer. Also of grave concern are a host of everyday health issues children exposed to second hand smoke are prone to such as respiratory infections, coughing, asthma attacks and inner ear infections.  These can easily be avoided by not smoking near children, in other words, not only in vehicles but at home or any enclosed space.  The moral of the story – don’t risk your child’s health with your smoking habit.  Exposure to second-hand smoke increases the risk of lung cancer by 24% and heart disease by 25%. Source

Since 1964, approximately 2.5 million people have suffered early deaths due to second hand smoke according to reports  from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Should Indiana’s new bill be passed, it may help to lower the climbing numbers.  Arkansas, California, Louisiana, Maine, Oregon, Utah, Vermont and Virginia are the current states in America leading the way to improved health for children exposed to second hand smoke in vehicles.

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Across the Pacific, England and Wales are years ahead, having passed similar legislation in 2015. Their legislation include all minors under the age of 18, not only those under 6 years of age.  The driver of the vehicle is also responsible to ensure no passenger breaks the law. A fine of £50 (approximately $66) will be issued against the driver of a vehicle violating the law, small change compared to Indiana’s proposed fines.

Secondhand Smoke Exposure

Indiana’s Republican state senator, Jim Merritt hopes t this campaign will help highlight the importance of the health of children. Merritt stated, “I want to say to mom and dad [that] this is not right … to be riding along in a car and getting second hand smoke is just not acceptable for anyone but more so for children who just don’t have a choice.”  Merritt he acknowledges that enforcing the bill will not going to be an easy task, but it’s a great starting point. If passed, the bill will l be put into effect by July 2019.

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Statistics show that fewer US children are exposed to second hand smoke in the home (9.1% in 2010, compared to 5% in 2000). Much work still needs to be done to protect children and reduce related ER healthcare costs which stood at a staggering $62.9 million in 2010.

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