Friday, February 24, 2017
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4th State Protects its Children From Secondhand Smoke

Oregon Passed a Law Banning Parents From Smoking in Vehicles With Children.

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Lawmakers are questioning whether adults who smoke in close proximity to children are committing child abuse.

Oregon is putting the safety of children first with the passing of a new law banning smoking in vehicles while children are present. The law has been in effect since January 1 of this year. Violators face up to a $250 fine if caught smoking in a vehicle with children present, with subsequent violations resulting in fines up to $500.

Secondhand smoke has two forms: mainstream smoke which is exhaled by a smoker, and side-stream smoke, which is the smoke that rises from a lit cigarette. Side-stream smoke can be just as deadly to those exposed to it as actually smoking cigarettes. Secondhand smoke contains gases, particles, and up to 7,000 chemical compounds. Over 200 of these chemicals carry harmful effects, 70 of which are known to cause cancer.

With such a high health risk associated with second-hand smoke, lawmakers are questioning whether adults who smoke in close proximity to children are committing child abuse. Child abuse is defined as any physical injury inflicted upon a child other than by accidental means, which includes children who suffer any medical problems as a result of exposure to second-hand smoke. Medical costs for children exposed to secondhand smoke have reached $4.6 billion a year, illustrating the enormous cost of this issue.

Though the new law is now in effect, police officers are not allowed to pull over vehicles simply for smoking in a vehicle where children are present. Police must look for other violations such as speeding or reckless driving before they can pull someone over and cite them for violation of the new law.

The risks of smoking have been well documented, and Oregon’s legislation on banning smoking in vehicles where children follow several other states efforts. Arkansas, Louisiana, and California implemented these laws beginning in the mid-2000’s. States that have discussed these laws, but have not yet implemented them include: the District of Columbia, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Tennessee.

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