The automobile, one of the last refuges of the smoker, is under siege in South Carolina, where state lawmakers are considering a ban on lighting up if you're in a car with a small child. Smokers would face a $25 fine if they're caught with a lit cigarette in a car carrying children 6 or younger, or 80 pounds or lighter (those who may still need a car seat). Is this just a sensible precaution to protect kids from second-hand smoke, or a heavy-handed violation of smokers' rights?
If anything, this ban doesn't go far enough: Doctors say second-hand smoke can increase a kid's chances of getting ear infections, allergies, asthma, and other ailments, says Carolyn Castiglia at Strollerderby. So instead of a cut-off at age 6, why not prohibit smoking when a child of any age is in the car? We tell people they can't drink or use a cell phone when they drive — if smoking in the car is hurting kids, we should regulate that, too.
"Should adults be banned from smoking around kids?"
This is just another nanny state overreach: We're heading down a slippery slope here, says South Carolinian Barry DeHaven, as quoted by the Associated Press. Once we let the government tell us we can't smoke in cars for the sake of children's health, what will stop lawmakers from telling people "they can't smoke in their homes"? That's the logical next step, and it "strikes me as vastly unconstitutional."
"S.C. bill would bar smoking when a kid is in the car"
It won't be easy to pass a law like this: "This bill is a great idea," say the editors of The Digitel Charleston. But there are a lot of people who will see this as a violation of "individual rights." Keeping parents from "puffing away" in the car will be an "uphill battle." But who knows? A Republican senator in this conservative, business-friendly state just "spearheaded" a restaurant recycling bill, so anything is technically possible.
"New South Carolina bill aims to ban smoking in car with kids"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why you should really take a nap this afternoon, according to science
- Here's the schedule very successful people follow every day
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- 7 grammar rules you really should pay attention to
- A gay Mormon's complicated journey
- How to flirt, according to science
- Why you shouldn't eat dog. Not even once.
- 7 things the world's happiest people do every day
- 9 things you probably didn't know about the moon
- How social conservatives became a minority in need of protection
Subscribe to the Week