Cars With Kids Next Battlefield In Anti-Smoking War

Written by Jill Colvin on . Posted in Posts.

Remember the days when you could smoke anywhere you wanted
without fear of reprisal? (Other than, um, cancer…) Well, if Queens City
Council member James Gennaro has his way, city dwellers could soon be barred from lighting up in yet another
locale: cars with passengers under the age of 18. “I am just seeking every
opportunity I can to denormalize smoking and to try to put it out of the reach
of kids,” Gennaro told reporters yesterday. “I’ve lost family members to lung
cancer and I’ve seen what happens.” Gennaro, who is chairman of the council’s
Environmental Protection Committee, is planning to unveil the proposal—which would fine drivers up to $400 for
first-time violations and up to $2000 for repeated puffing—today at city hall.

So does this mean that New York
is on its way to becoming a full-blown “nanny
as critics accuse? The city has recently passed a whole slew of
ordinances banning everything from noise
to trans fat to cell phones in schools. But those who have expressed support for
similar proposals, including Mayor Bloomberg, argue that while people should
have the right to smoke in their cars, kids have a right to be carcinogen free:
“If it’s a child in the car, who doesn’t have the ability to speak up and
protect themselves, then society does start to have an interest,” the Mayor once
said. Genaro put it a little more colorfully back in June: “Boo-hoo. You can’t
subject kids to 43 carcinogens and 250 poisonous chemicals and claim privacy.
Get over it. Their right to privacy doesn’t extend so far as to poisoning
kids.” Several districts, including Rockland
, already have similar
legislation on the books.

Photo courtesy of navet on Flickr