SALT LAKE CITY — A Senate committee passed a bill that would make it a crime to smoke in the car with a child inside on Wednesday.
House Bill 13 is sponsored by Rep. Patrice Arent, (D) Salt Lake City. The Senate committee passed the bill 4-1. The Utah House already passed the bill as well and it now heads to the Senate floor for discussion.
“This bill would say people cannot smoke in cars when there are passengers 15 and under,” Rep. Arent said.
She wants to make it a secondary offense to smoke in the car with a child, with a fine of up to $45. The penalty could be waived if the offender takes a class to quit smoking.
“I’m here speaking on behalf of children simply because children cannot speak for themselves,” said Janet Brooks, a child advocacy at Primary Children’s Medical Center.
Critics of the bill say the legislation is over reaching by the government.
“I think we need to have individual freedoms in our country rather than all these nanny state bills,” said a woman during the hearing.
According to advocacy group, Americans for Non-smokers’ Rights, similar legislation is already in effect in California, Arkansas, Maine and Louisiana.