Bill to ban motorist smoking with child passengers aboard fails by one vote in Senate

A bill allowing police to cite adult motorists who are smoking in vehicles with children present fell one vote short of passage in the state Senate Wednesday. The Times Free Press reports the measure touched off a fierce debate about health versus personal freedom.

The vote was 16-8. Seventeen “yes” votes were required to pass the bill (SB1759, as amended – it was initially filed as a caption bill).

“It’s not intended to be punitive to the driver,” said Sen. Richard Briggs, R-Knoxville, a physician and sponsor of the bill. “It’s intended to be an education on the hazards of smoking in a closed vehicle.”

Briggs said all he wanted to do was decrease the hazard to children.

Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Paul Bailey, R-Sparta, said the legislation “was an overreach into the lives of all Tennesseans” and motorists passing through the state, as well.

“This bill came to my committee as a Trojan horse,” he charged.

The bill would apply to adults in vehicles where there are children 14 years old and under inside the vehicle. Smoking with a child present would not be a “primary offense” that police could use to pull over a motorist. Instead, the decision to pull someone over would be based on an offense like speeding.

A first offense would be punishable only by the issuance of a warning citation. A second offense would be a Class D misdemeanor punishable by a fine of $20 and court costs could not exceed $10.

Third and subsequent offenses would be a Class C misdemeanor with fines of $50 and court costs limited to $10.

9 Responses to Bill to ban motorist smoking with child passengers aboard fails by one vote in Senate

  • James White says:

    If they really cared about children, they would prohibit children from riding in automobiles.
    Just more of the TENNESSEE TALIBAN LEGISLATURE trying to rule our every move.

  • Brenda Miller says:

    I understand Senator Briggs concern about smoking with children in the car, but if people don’t care enough about their own health to stop smoking getting them to stop because there are children in the car is futile. People who smoke really can’t connect what they are doing to bad health. The results of smoking takes time to become apparent and the smoker just thinks that isn’t going to happen to him/her because they know people who have smoked for years and are “just fine.” If you want to control peoples bad decisions you are living in the wrong country and should ask China, North Korea, Cuba, Saudi Arabia, and any other country run by despots for suggestions on how to control behavior not excepted to the powers that be.

  • Tommy Ray McAnally says:

    If YOU LEGISLATORS would VOTE on things that made common sense, O I forgot you have to ask your lobbyist first. Again Don’t forget about Viet Nam Traveling Wall Matheny,Harwell,Haslam,Ragan,Stewart,Ramsey, McCormick and All You Ayes in House and Senate that thought HB 2384 was GREAT FOR THE TENNESSEE VETERANS.

  • John Acuff says:

    It needs to be a criminal act to smoke in a car with a child or to smoke in a room with a child present

    • Bren Branch says:

      I agree. If people don’t know by now after all the years they have been told that it is bad for them and just as bad for someone inhaling the smoke from their cigarettes or what they exhale into the air that those people breathe in, then they are choosing to ignore the fact.
      I have asthma and always have. I have been in cars and rooms with people as an adult and I could choose to leave, but when I was a child, I didn’t have that choice and so I suffered. With ear infections that caused me to lose a great portion of my hearing. The Dr told my mother if she hadn’t come in with me when she did, I would have soon been totally deaf! And I constantly had sinus infections and bronchitis. And even if I told the smokers that it was bothering me and that I couldn’t breathe and that I wasn’t feeling so good, they still didn’t stop. Back then it was because they didn’t know, but now with all the information that is out there and has been televised, I think they just don’t care, because they have to know.

  • Brenda Miller says:

    People need educated not punished on the harm of smoking around children. Putting more stress on families by criminalizing this act is not the answer. When the police see someone smoking with kids in the car, while stopped, give them educational material and just tell them what they are doing is harmful to their kids. It is stress that drive many people to smoking to start with, so arresting them is throwing gasoline On the fire.

  • Brenda Miller says:

    Police shouldn’t have to pull people over, but if they notice someone in a parking lot smoking with kids in the car then provide them with pamphlets about the harm to kids and be kind and just talk to them about it. This would go a lot farther then jail or some big fine.

  • Brenda Miller says:

    Ok, one more thought! When the policeman/woman goes to the car maybe have something for the kids. A coloring book about not smoking and make it up beat and not scary. This would be good PR for police/citizen relations.

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