No More Smoking with Baby on Board
I don’t get worked up about too many parenting topics—I’m a big believer in “to each their own”—but I draw the line at secondhand smoke around children. Unfortunately, I’ve seen the effects of nicotine addiction in my extended family—my cousin grew up with parents who smoked, and respiratory problems have plagued him his entire life.
Simply put, I really hate to see parents smoking around their kids. Yes, I’m judging, in this case. I don’t even like to see smokers walking beside my kids on the sidewalk (OK, they have a right to be there too, obviously… but I still don’t have to like it).
New York City banned smoking in restaurants and clubs years ago, and I can tell you it’s pretty jarring to visit other parts of the country now and have to be seated in the “non-smoking” section. So, when state governments like the one in Oregon get together to pass a Senate bill on secondhand smoke, well, I get a little giddy. Now, if only the state were a little bit closer to my friends and family… I might want to move out there one day!
But I digress. In June 2013, the Oregon House passed a Senate bill which would allow police to fine a driver smoking in a car with a child present. One small caveat: they must be pulled over for another violation first (offenses include speeding, running a red light, or changing a lane without a proper notice). The new law went into effect on January 1st.
Since 2009, Oregon has had a statewide ban on smoking in all enclosed workplaces, including bars and restaurants, as well as private residences that are used for child or adult care centers. The new ban may seems strict, but it doesn’t even come close to some other cities’ ordinances against secondhand smoke.
While there has been some criticism from lawmakers, the majority believe it is time to take one more step in reducing exposure to secondhand smoke–especially for the very young. Rep. Jim Thompson, R-Dallas, in a quote from The Oregonian, says, “This is a bill whose time has come. We clearly know the effects of secondhand smoke on health.”
Secondhand smoke is especially harmful to babies and toddlers, as their lungs are still developing. Additionally, ear infections, respiratory problems like bronchitis and pneumonia, coughs, colds and even tooth decay are more prevalent among kids with exposure to secondhand smoke. Children with asthma are also at greater risk.
And the thing is, captive in their car seats, they don’t have a choice.
This ban is a great step. But I know of another. It’s quite simple, really: quit. If you have to smoke, don’t do it around your children. And if fining a driver for lighting up causes him or her to reconsider that cigarette as they get in the car, for the good of their child and themselves, I’m all for it.
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