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One City Made It Illegal to Smoke in the Car With Kids

Photograph by Twenty20

Everyone knows that smoking is bad for you. It can damage internal organs and cause disease. But secondhand smoke is dangerous for everyone, not only those puffing away on cigarettes. In fact, roughly 42,000 people die every year from health problems caused by exposure to secondhand smoke.

What does this mean for those children who can’t escape the toxic fumes? It means they might have to face a lot of sick days, which is why the mayor of Honolulu is putting a ban on smoking in a car when children are present. The ban also applies to electronic cigarettes.

Last week, the Honolulu City Council passed Bill 70 in a unanimous vote, making it illegal to smoke in a vehicle with someone under 18 inside.

Here’s what will happen if a person in Honolulu gets caught smoking in the car with a child inside:

First, the police will determine who the culprit is and ticket them directly (not necessarily the driver). Then comes the bill. Note: Those found guilty might want to hold onto their tickets because they're going to need something to wipe their tears with once they realize how much an illegal habit will cost them on the Hawaiian island of Oahu.

The fine for first-time offenders is $100. After that, you're looking at around $200 for a second offense (if it happens within one year of the first offense) and up to $500 if you are caught a third time within a year of a prior offense. But the real penalty is what secondhand smoke does to children.

Because their bodies are still developing, exposure to poisons (i.e., secondhand smoke) puts them at a higher risk of developing severe respiratory diseases and can hinder the growth of their lungs.

Lila Johnson, program manager for tobacco prevention at the Hawaii State Department of Health, believes that this bill is all about protecting the next generation.

“It is probably 10 times as toxic as it is to be sitting inside a smoky bar for a child to be sitting inside a confined unit exposed to secondhand smoke,” Johnson says.

“Clean air is the standard, and it’s to encourage parents and anybody who is with a young child in a car not to smoke in an automobile with them.”

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