A bill working its way through the New Jersey Legislature would authorize police to ticket those smoking in an automobile if a child younger than 17 is present. That sounds reasonable, considering that the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says second-hand smoke can cause ear infections, respiratory infections and worsen asthma attacks in children. But if government is now punishing people for smoking in their vehicles, what’s to stop it from outlawing the same smoking in their homes? We’re glad at least one legislator, Sen. Robert Gordon, D-Bergen, expressed concern that the law encroaches on drivers’ privacy rights.
Everyone knows that smoking (or chewing) tobacco is unhealthy and a cause of premature death, so lots of measures to discourage tobacco use are justified, but government may be nearing the point where trying to declare tobacco an illegal drug would be more honest. At least this new way to hound smokers would be a secondary offence, so a driver wouldn’t be pulled over for pulling a puff with a kid in the car. A police officer would have to stop the driver first for a primary motor vehicle offence such as speeding, using a cell phone or driving recklessly. Then the smoking charge could add a $100 fine to the total.
But maybe the main motivation for this bill in New Jersey isn’t another discouragement for tobacco users at all. Maybe it’s about the addiction of state politicians to the revenue from taxes on tobacco products. Senate Bill S2883 also authorizes ticketing drivers for using e-cigarettes when youngsters are in the automobile. But there is no demonstrated health risk from the water, glycerine and propylene glycol exhaled by users of e-cigarettes.
2014 study by a professor at the Drexel University Public Health School in Philadelphia found “no health concerns for users or bystanders” from e-cigarette use. Igor Burstyn reviewed 9,000 observations about the chemistry of the vapor and liquid in e-cigarettes and determined the levels of contaminants were well below levels that would pose a health risk. Popular Science magazine last month quoted toxicologist Maciej Goniewicz of the Roswell Park Cancer Institute saying that e-cigarette vapor contains just a few of the thousands of chemicals found in second-hand smoke, and “at much lower levels.” Read full article
Press Atlantic City (21 June 2015) Legislative overreach/ticket smoking around kids maybe, but why vaping? [news]. Retrieved from http://tinyurl.com/nn9xlg2