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Legislature right to ban smoking in car with kids
Mar 08, 2013 | 1753 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print

The opinions stated in this article are solely those of the author and not of The Davis Clipper.


At a convenience store last week, a woman entered and purchased two cartons of name-brand cigarettes. I was shocked at the cost: $112.

I told the story to a friend. He chuckled, “I was fortunate to quit smoking back when cigarettes were only 25-cents per pack. I was newly married and money was tight, but I still loved to smoke. Then one day my wife and I decided to buy our first television set. It ran us $8 per month for two years С and the only way we could make the payment was to give up smoking. At today’s cost, it is amazing anybody smokes.”

But about one in every seven Utahns still do, and last week the Utah Senate cut ties with past precedence by narrowly passing a bill making it a secondary offense (with a fine of up to $45) to smoke in an automobile in the presence of a child under 16 years of age.

There was a lot of talk about smoker’s rights and the proper role of government. And as a former smoker, I can say with ease that the legislators made the right decision.

Smoking should be legal, but I’m uneasy about increasing taxes on cigarettes to force smokers to quit. But it should be a no-brainer that smoking inside an enclosed car is the equivalent of a rolling coffin. The adult has the option of smoking; the child doesn’t. There’s no disagreement on the impact of second-hand smoke, yet the “Tea Party” anti-government fringe of the Republican Party turned its back on medical evidence. (That shouldn’t be surprising, since the same yokels have turned their backs on the scientific community for a decade).

A Utah County senator echoed the tired nonsense by saying, “My children are a gift that God gave me. The state did not receive them and then sent them to me...It’s not appropriate for the state to play God or parent.”

Oh really? If that’s the case, the state should have no laws on the books regarding child abuse. If a parent wants to put pepper seeds in a child’s eyelids, burn the kid with matches, or bring welts to the skin via a leather belt, that’s the right of the parent.

(Amazingly, it’s the same legislators who will let a parent destroy a child’s health, yet vote for the “Zion Curtain” so that a child won’t see a bartender pour a beer or mix a margarita).

Thankfully, a thin majority of the Utah Senate agreed with the newly elected Sen. Brian Shiozawa, a medical doctor who said he sympathized with restraining government, but didn’t think a parent should have the right to take years off a child’s life. Bountiful Sen. Todd Weiler agreed, saying he needed to “stand up” for the children in his district.

If a parent decides his son or daughter doesn’t need an education, it’s a decision that impacts you and me as taxpayers. Similarly, future medical costs will be borne by a society, not just an individual. The idea that government should allow parents to do whatever they want with a child is preposterous Ayn Rand malarkey, unfitting for a state legislator. 

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