A New Jersey state senator wants to stop smokers from lighting up in vehicles if children 16 and under also are present.
Joseph Vitale said the measure he introduced last month would protect children from being exposed to tobacco products and electronic cigarettes in confined spaces. The Middlesex County Democrat chairs the Senate's Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee.
Violators would face a $100 fine, but would not face surcharges or points on their driving or insurance records. The smoking ban would be a secondary offense, meaning violators could only be cited if drivers are stopped for committing a moving violation.
Many smokers and critics are panning the proposal, saying that it's well-intentioned but not needed. They also believe it will be difficult to enforce.
"Most parents who smoke do what they can to not expose their kids to second-hand smoke," Christine Miller of Ewing said while smoking outside a Trenton office building this week. "In my case, I rarely smoke inside my house and I don't smoke in my car when my daughters (ages 5 and 7) are with me. I know he's seeking to protect kids and I can understand his thinking, but I think there are more important issues that our lawmakers and law enforcement people can be working on."
But the proposal does have supporters, including children's right advocates and nonsmokers.
"If people want to kill themselves by smoking, that's their choice," said Richard Jordan, a Trenton resident and nonsmoker who is the father of three teenage boys. "But don't force other people to deal with the smoke and carcinogens. Don't make them sick because you can't stop your smoking addiction."