Senate bans smoking in cars with kids

Paige Baxter
Capital News Service

RICHMOND – The Senate today passed a bill to prohibit smoking in a vehicle when a child under 15 is present.

Senators voted 30-10 for the bill, which now goes to the House of Delegates for consideration. All of the Democrats and half of the Republicans in the Senate supported the bill.

Under Senate Bill 975, proposed by Democratic Sen. Ralph Northam of Virginia Beach and Norfolk, people who violate the proposed law would face a civil penalty of $100.

On the floor of the Senate, Northam asked his colleagues to approve the bill. He said the legislation was inspired by a third-grader who had told Northam that his parents smoke in the car with him.

“It will protect our children and improve their health and in the end hopefully cut down on health care costs,” Northam said.

Northam’s bill is one of three smoking bans still making their way through the General Assembly.

A House bill, HB 2309, would ban smoking in health care facilities. It is awaiting a vote in the House General Laws Committee.

Another bill in the Senate, SB 1253, would give local governments the authority to ban smoking in public areas such as parks and beaches. The Senate Local Government Committee approved this proposal, 11-4; it is now before the full Senate.

Capital News Service is a student news-gathering program sponsored by the School of Mass Communications at Virginia Commonwealth University.

On the web

Here’s where you can read about the smoking bills:

http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?131+sum+SB975

http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?131+sum+SB1253

http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?ses=131&typ=bil&val=Hb2309

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