Alabama House passes bill to ban smoking in cars with minors

MONTGOMERY, Ala. --  Smoking in vehicles with people under age 19 would be banned under a bill that passed the Alabama House of Representatives Monday night.

Rep. Rolanda Hollis, D-Birmingham, said she got the idea for the bill after riding in her husband's truck while he was smoking, reports our news partners at AL.com. Hollis' intent isn't to ban adults from smoking, but rather to protect children who don't have a choice about riding in a confined space with a smoker.

Violations would result in a fine of up to $100. The House passed her bill by a vote of 41-30.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, eight states and  Puerto Rico already have similar restrictions:

  • California, Oregon and Puerto Rico, minors under 18
  • Maine and Utah, minors under 16
  • Arkansas, minors under 14
  • Louisiana, minors under 13
  • Vermont, minors under 9
  • Virginia, minors under 8

Kelly Krause, a Madison mom, said at first glance she believes the bill is a good idea.

"This is a good thing," she said. "It protects children's health where they can't advocate for themselves. This is one way they won't be exposed to secondhand smoke... I don't normally advocate for telling someone what they can and can not do, but this is for children's health so it makes it different."

Others agreed. Andrew Walker said he thinks it will be helpful.

"I'm not one who is typically for big government and intrusion, but I think it's a huge public issue," he explained. "I know it's frustrating as a parent, watching people driving around with kids in their car while smoking and knowing what it does to them."

He added, "As an adult, you have choice and can choose what to do. But a kid has no choice what you do to them. I think this is a really good idea."

But some on social media wonder if this law would be enforceable if it passed and were signed by the Governor. Others wrote on the WHNT News 19 Facebook page, "I don't smoke, never have. But I also don't believe the government has the right to tell you if you can smoke or not smoke in your car."

We caught up with Madison Bean on her smoke break. She said she tries to smoke away from people and especially children, and she doesn't smoke in her car. She would be in favor of a law that would ban it.

"It's basically like giving them in a cigarette, you know? I think it's irresponsible," she explained about smoking around children. "If I'm choosing to have a bad habit anyway, I'm not going to affect other people in the process of that."

The CDC says that there is "no risk-free level of secondhand smoke exposure; even brief exposure can be harmful to health." It outlines the risks to children here.