SALT LAKE CITY – A bill that would prohibit smoking in a car with children drew supporters and criticism on Utah’s Capitol Hill on Tuesday.
House Bill 13, cosponsored by Rep. Patrice Arent, D-Salt Lake City, and Rep. Lee Perry, R-Perry, would make smoking in vehicles, when children ages 15 and younger are passengers, a secondary offense and carries of up to $45. That penalty would be waived if the person takes a class to quit smoking.
“When we’re forcing children, yes, children are people, to smoke cigarettes when they wouldn’t normally do that, it’s definitely dehumanizing,” said Tyler Adams, a high school student who supports the bill.
There was strong support from the medical community in a committee hearing on Tuesday afternoon.
“I’m speaking on behalf of children simply because children cannot speak for themselves,” said Janet Brooks, a child advocate with Primary Children’s Medical Center.
Some opponents say the bill may be an overreach of government and reduce individual freedom.
“When I was a child, being left a long in the car while my mom ran in the store was common place, but today it’s a basis for child abuse or neglect,” said Rep. Brian M. Greene, R-Pleasant Grove. “What assurances do we have that this won’t become the basis for child abuse in the future?”
“I think we need to have individual freedoms in our country rather than all these nanny state bills.”
The bill passed through the committee with two of the eight lawmakers voting against it. It now moves to the House for a vote.