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MOTOR VEHICLES (GENERAL); SMOKING; TRAFFIC REGULATIONS;

OLR Research Report


May 14, 2009

 

2009-R-0220

BANS ON SMOKING IN VEHICLES CARRYING CHILDREN

By: Laura Cummings, Legislative Fellow

You asked for a description of legislation passed in other states banning smoking in vehicles when children are present. You also wanted to know if there is any data on the effects of such measures. This report updates OLR Report 2008-R-0133.

SUMMARY

Arkansas, California, Louisiana, and Maine have enacted such legislation. The age of children covered varies by state (certain children under six in Arkansas, under 18 in California, under 13 in Louisiana, and under 16 in Maine. In addition Puerto Rico (children under 13, or still in car seats), Bangor (Maine), Rockland County (New York), and Keyport (New Jersey) have adopted similar legislation.

Similar legislation has been proposed in 16 states in 2008 or 2009, including Connecticut.

We have not been able to find any information on the effects of the legislation after contacting several anti-smoking advocacy groups, legislative staff in the relevant states, and the National Conference of State Legislatures. This may be due to the fact that Arkansas and Louisiana's legislation went into effect in 2006, Puerto Rico's legislation went into effect in 2007, and California and Maine's legislation took effect in 2008.

BANS ON SMOKING IN VEHICLES CARRYING CHILDREN

Arkansas

The law (Ark. Rev. Code 20-27-1902 et seq.) bars smoking in motor vehicles carrying children under the age of six, who weigh less than 60 pounds, and who are in car seats. It took effect on July 21, 2006. A violator may be fined $25, but can avoid paying the fine for a first offense by showing proof of participation in a smoking-cessation program. The law does not apply to buses (including school buses) and other public conveyances.

California

The law (Cal. Health and Safety Code 118948 et seq.) bars smoking in a motor vehicle when a minor (17 years old and under) is present. A violation is punishable by a fine of up to $100. A law enforcement officer cannot stop a vehicle solely to determine whether a driver is violating this provision. The law took effect January 1, 2008.

Louisiana

The law (La. Rev. Stat. 32:300.4) bars smoking in a motor vehicle where there are children under 13, regardless of whether the windows are rolled up. The law applies to cars, passenger vans, and pick-up trucks. Violators are subject to a fine of up to $150 or, at the judge's discretion, at least 24 hours of community service. Violation of this provision is considered a primary offense, which means a law enforcement officer may stop a motor vehicle solely because of a violation. But a law enforcement officer may not stop or inspect a motor vehicle, its contents, the driver, or a passenger solely because of a violation of this provision. A violation is a nonmoving violation, and a citation issued by a law enforcement officer is not included on the driver's operating record. The law took effect on August 15, 2006.

Maine

The law (22 Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. 1549) bars smoking in a motor vehicle by an operator or a passenger when a child under 16 is present, regardless of whether the windows are rolled up. The law took effect on September 1, 2008. From that date until August 31, 2009, a violator will

be given a written warning. After August 31, 2009, a violator will be subject to a $50 fine, at the law enforcement officer's discretion. A law enforcement officer may not inspect a motor vehicle, its contents, its driver, or a passenger solely because of a violation of this provision. A violation is a nonmoving violation.

Puerto Rico

The law (PR Laws Ann. 24 892(u)) bars smoking in a private transportation vehicle in which there is a child in a car seat or a child under 13. The statute does not specify a fine. The law took effect March 2, 2007.

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