Oregon lawmakers look to ban drivers from smoking with kids in the car

Oregon lawmakers look to ban drivers from smoking with kids in the car
OREGON -- Lori Abell used to smoke in the car with her kids.

She tells KEPR, "Back before we knew it was bad... we did it. But it's not good for them."

Now with her great nephew in the backseat, she wouldn't even think about lighting up.

"My son hated it when we'd smoke," Lori explains.

It's no surprise second-hand smoke is more concentrated in a car than a home. Which is why Oregon lawmakers are trying to make it illegal to smoke in your car if you're riding with kids. The bill was approved by the state house and is now in its final hearing in the state senate. Oregon would be the fifth state in the nation to make it illegal to smoke in your car with kids.

Lori continues, "Knowing what we know nowadays about cigarette smoke, they shouldn't be doing it whether it's legal or not."

Most parents we talked to agreed.

"It's not fair to the kid. If he's inhaling smoke, he doesn't have a choice," says Nat Hughes, a 30 year Oregonian.

When Action News posted this story on our Facebook page, not everyone agreed. One person commented, 'land of the free - no longer' and another person said simply 'stupid.'

Nat says, "In a way I can understand how they feel but at the same time, it's a health risk to the child. So I'd say it's probably a good deal."

As it's written, the law would be a secondary offense. So you'd have to be pulled over for something else first. A ticket for smoking with a juvenile in the car would be $250. Some aren't sure you can legislate people into changing their habits.

"People still talk on their cell phones when it's illegal. There's a lot of smokers. And if they wanna smoke, they're gonna smoke regardless."

But in Oregon, those smokers could be fined.

If you're wondering how your local lawmakers voted, it was a unanimous yes in the Oregon state house.

If it becomes law, it would take effect in the new year.