Select Committee on Children
JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT
AN ACT PROHIBITING SMOKING IN MOTOR VEHICLES WITH MINOR CHILDREN.
Joint Favorable Change of Reference to Judiciary
SPONSORS OF BILL:
Select Committee on Children Representative Henry Genga
REASONS FOR BILL:
A constituent of Rep. Henry Genga was concerned with the negative health effect of second hand smoke on young children in cars. This bill would prohibit someone from smoking in a motor vehicle when there is a child six years of age or under or weighing less than sixty pounds and, thus, required to be secured in a child restrain system.
RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:
Richard Blumenthal, Attorney General, State of Connecticut: “This legislation is modeled after similar laws passed in California, Louisiana, Arkansas and a number of cities and towns.” “Four years ago, Connecticut prohibited smoking in most places open to the public as well as most work areas. This law spared hundreds of thousands of Connecticut residents from unwanted and dangerous exposure to second hand smoke.” “We have repeatedly recognized government's special role in protecting children. We require children to be vaccinated. We mandate helmets for children while riding bicycles. We require children to be placed in approved restraint systems. Protecting children in a confined area such as motor vehicle is consistent with these measures.” “The bill sensibly links the child's age and weight to the current requirement to be secured in a child restraint system.”
Carolyn Signorelli, Chief Child Protection Attorney, Commission on Child Protection: “I consider this bill to be consistent with the laws against abuse, neglect and risk of injury to our children. While many will object to this on civil liberty grounds, I do not believe that individuals have the right to assault and damage children with toxic smoke and chemicals. I presume there is some medical basis for the age and weight limitation, but I would agree with a law that applies to all children. If we can protect adults from second hand smoke in public, I don't see why we can't extend this requirement to prevent all children from being in a smoke filled vehicle.”
NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:
Rep. Henry Genga, 10th Assembly District: “I proposed this law after being contacted by a constituent, Justin Kvadas who is now an eleven year old student at the Sixth Grade Academy in East Hartford. The purpose of this law is to educate the public and protect small children under 7 years old or 60 pounds from second hand smoke.” A number of statistics from the American Lung Association support protecting children from second hand smoke. “Children who breathe second hand-smoke are likely to suffer from pneumonia, bronchitis and other lung diseases. Children who have asthma and who breathe second-hand smoke have more asthma attacks.” “The Surgeon General reported in 2006 'there is no risk free exposure to second hand smoke.'” A number of states “along with the city of Bangor, Maine and Puerto Rico” have similar laws.
Justin Kvadas, an 11 year old student: “I want to help those children who cannot speak for themselves.” He found a number of supporting facts for this legislation from the American Heart Association and the Environmental Protection Agency. “Children who spend 1 hour in an extremely smoky room inhale enough toxic chemicals equal to smoking 10 cigarettes. The dangers of second hand smoke are worse for children.” One reason is that children breathe at a faster rate than adults. “This results in a higher concentration of toxins in the lungs of a young person.” “According to the Tobacco Free Kids Organization, the State of Connecticut is ranked in last place for funding tobacco prevention programs at minimum levels recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.” This law would help highlight dangers of smoking to children. “Last year, I collected 194 signatures on a petition for this law. I have now collected an additional 429 signatures to show the growing support for this bill.” Justin Kvadas introduced his classmates (approximately 65) from Sunset Ridge School in East Hartford who were there to support the bill also. Justin also left copies of the petition.
Paul Caccavale, 6th grade student, Sunset Ridge School: “For me personally, cancer due to smoking has already affected my life in a negative way. My grandmother and my grandfather on my father's side both passed away from lung cancer, which was caused by their bad smoking habits. My grandparents were adults who made a choice to smoke cigarettes, but children don't have a choice when they're subjected to secondhand smoke due to an adult smoking in a vehicle. Children under the age of seven do not have control over the decision that adults make, and therefore if they're subjected to secondhand smoke it will ultimately be hazardous to their health.” “I would like to thank you for your consideration in helping to pass this bill into a law which will protect the children of our community.”
Rhianna Eaton, 6th grade student, Sunset Ridge School: “More than 30,000 non-smokers die each year of lung cancer. The American Lung Association also notes that children exposed to secondhand smoke are susceptible to bronchitis, infections, asthma, and pneumonia.” “By passing this bill, you are ensuring that children will be less exposed to secondhand smoke, thereby giving them a longer and healthier life.”
American Lung Association: Their support is based on facts. “Secondhand smoke is a cancer causing substance with no known safe level. The levels of smoke in a vehicle with someone smoking can easily and quickly reach dangerous levels even with the windows partially opened.” A Harvard School of Public Health study showed “that secondhand smoke levels in a car can be 10 times higher than exposure in a home.” “According to the latest Surgeon General's Report, children are the only population group that has not seen a significant reduction in exposure to secondhand smoke in recent years.” “We do have one suggestion. We feel that the bill should apply to all minor children, not just those less than 60 pounds or under age 7.” This is an important public health initiative.
NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:
Reported by: Elizabeth S. Giannaros
Date: March 13, 2008