It is looking like a possibility that smoking could soon be banned in cars with kids in the state of Illinois, following a trend that has been occurring the past few years where similar laws have been enacted in Oregon, California, Arkansas, Maine, Louisiana, and Utah as well. In addition to these states, a comparable law has also been passed in Puerto Rico. The maximum age of child passengers that are not allowed to be exposed to smoke in vehicles varies from state to state that have passed the ban. However, if the bill that could soon be passed where smoking is banned in cars with kids goes through in the state of Illinois, the state’s law would ban smokers from lighting up cigarettes in their cars if they are transporting any passengers under the age of 18.
The legislation was proposed by Democratic Illinois State Senator Ira Silverstein from Chicago, who suggested that anyone smoking in a car with a passenger 18 or under should be penalized with a fine up to $100. In this past few years of states enacting these bans, the most recent state to ban smoking with kids in cars was Oregon, with the law put into effect on Jan. 1, 2014. This state penalizes offenders with a greater fine; the first offense costs a person $250, and any additional offenses will cost him or her an additional $500.
The new bill for Illinois has not yet been voted on, but the Illinois Senate has already heard testimony on it. The American Lung Association is backing the measure, saying that innocent children are at high risk and in a dangerous situation when riding in smoky cars, and that they are being exposed to secondhand smoke with absolutely no say in the matter.
Illinois smokers already had something to worry about earlier this year when a new law was passed in the state on Jan. 1, 2014 that banned the flicking of cigarettes, including both lit and unlit, out of car windows. Under this law, the state’s Litter Control Act officially added cigarettes to the list of things that qualify as litter. That being said, any person who tosses a cigarette or cigarette butt out of his or her car window in the state if Illinois will now be hit with a Class B misdemeanor on his or her first offense. A second offense of this type will amount to a Class A misdemeanor, and a third time will result in a Class 4 felony. Illinois has also set additional litter laws and penalties in place along with the law regarding littering with cigarettes.
The bill in the state of Illinois that could soon have smoking banned in cars with kids does however state that a vehicle could not be pulled over merely because of a person failing to observe the ban. Senators have expressed concern over this provision, saying that they are worried about the frequency of the enforcement of the law, as a person would have to receive a traffic violation which warranted being pulled over by a police officer for the law to be enforced, so there is a high possibility that it could be easily evaded.
By Laura Clark