Senate rejects bill to ban smoking in cars with children present

By Mark Fitton
Illinois News Network

SPRINGFIELD — A proposal to ban smoking in cars when children are present flamed out in the Illinois Senate on Wednesday.

Sen. Ira Silverstein (D-Chicago) said he proposed the measure because cars are confined spaces and second-hand smoke, and therefore carcinogens, is more concentrated there.

“Second-hand smoke kills,” he said.

The bill, which called for a fine of no more than $100, would not have allowed officers to pull people over solely for smoking in a vehicle with children present. The car would have to be stopped for some other violation.

Six other states have similar laws, Silverstein said.

Opponents expressed doubts about the bill, including its impact given its limited enforceability.

Sen. Tim Bivins (R-Dixon) also saw a bit of irony.

“I find it interesting we are offering to decriminalize marijuana but at the same time we are criminalizing tobacco,” Bivins said, referring to a recent House bill that seeks to make low-level marijuana possession a civil offense punishable by a fine only.

Sen. Kimberly Lightford (D-Maywood) expressed concerns about such a law being used for racial profiling and said, “I personally feel if you’re in your own automobile what you do is your business; I think this is just a step too far.”

The measure, Senate Bill 729, received only eight votes of a possible 59.

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