Schwarzenegger signs bill banning smoking in cars with children |

Schwarzenegger signs bill banning smoking in cars with children

SACRAMENTO (AP) ” California motorists will risk fines of up to $100 if they smoke in cars carrying children starting next year.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Wednesday signed a bill that will make it an infraction to smoke in a vehicle if someone under age 18 is present. But the traffic stop would have to be made for another offense, such as speeding or an illegal turn, before the driver could be cited for smoking.

The bill’s author, state Sen. Jenny Oropeza, D-Long Beach, agreed to make that change in the bill to assure its approval by the Assembly, said her spokesman, Ray Sotero.

The ban, which takes effect Jan. 1, is the latest in a string of smoking prohibitions adopted in California. They include a ban on smoking in enclosed workplaces and within 25 feet of a playground.

Oropeza said the new law will protect children against secondhand smoke. A Harvard School of Public Health report issued last year said secondhand smoke in cars can be up to 10 times more of a health risk than secondhand smoke in a home.

“Protecting the health of our children is among government’s highest responsibilities,” Oropeza said in a statement. “It is clear that increasing public awareness about the dangers of secondhand smoke is the right thing to do.”

While he signed the smoking ban, Schwarzenegger again turned down another bill designed to protect children. He vetoed a measure by Assemblyman Gene Mullin, D-South San Francisco, that would have required children under age 8 to ride in federally approved car seats unless they are at least 4-feet-9 inches tall.

Current law requires car seats for children who are under age 6 or weigh less than 60 pounds.

Supporters said the Mullin bill was needed because children who are 6 or 7 years old often are still too small to be adequately protected just by wearing seat belts.

But Schwarzenegger said the best approach was to enforce current laws and encourage parents to follow them.

“Rather than repeatedly passing new laws in response to the age, height or weight factors of our children and modifying legal requirements, a better strategy is to move towards full compliance with the laws we already have,” he said in his veto message.

He vetoed a similar measure last year.

Schwarzenegger also signed a bill by Assemblywoman Sally Lieber, D-Mountain View, that prohibits tobacco sellers from giving away or selling for a nominal cost tobacco gift certificates or coupons in public places.

Current law, in an attempt to keep tobacco out of the hands of children, already bans tobacco companies and retailers from giving away tobacco products in public. Lieber said her bill would strengthen that law.

It also takes effect Jan. 1.


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