Smoking tobacco has always been something I’ve felt very strongly about. It’s one of those topics that gets me really fired up and makes me want to have a debate. Why tobacco is even legal in the first place is beyond me, so when I heard that Virginia was trying to pass a law that would make it illegal for anyone to smoke in the car when someone under the age of 15 is with them I was ecstatic. “About damn time” was the first thing I thought, followed quickly by, “Why the hell didn’t they think of that sooner?”
Second hand smoke has been scientifically proven to be just as bad, if not worse, than first hand smoke, and for years parents have been hot-boxing their children with cigarette smoke and essentially saying, “I don’t care if my children get cancer, I just want to have a cigarette in the car.” According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, second hand smoke can cause asthma in children who have not previously shown symptoms, increase the risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and increase the risk for pneumonia and bronchitis. Along with all these risks, children who are regularly inhaling second hand smoke also have a higher risk of getting lung cancer. I personally think it’s absurd for a parent to smoke around a child and show them a bad habit, but to expose children to thousands of chemicals they wouldn’t otherwise be exposed to is just negligent.
Many people have made the argument that this law is overstepping boundaries, or that it’s going too far and it’s up to the parents to make that decision. While I agree it’s the parent’s job to make decisions about their children, I also believe that many parents are too selfish to realize how harmful their actions really are. It’s sad that Americans need a law to say they shouldn’t subject their children to these chemicals, but you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. If these parents aren’t going to protect their children like they should then it’s up to the law to step in and do something about it.
The bill proposes that the fine for smoking while accompanied by anyone under 15 in the car would only be $100 plus any court fees. While this is better than nothing, it seems to me like it’s an empty threat more than anything. If I were a smoker, I wouldn’t think twice about a $100 fine. How would the police enforce a law like that? They really couldn’t. However, this bill gives me hope more than anything. It shows me, and plenty of others, that lawmakers see the harm in tobacco and every day we are getting closer and closer to a country where the citizens don’t pollute the air and the lungs of others. This bill might not stop drivers from smoking in the car with their children, but it stands for more than that. It shows that lawmakers and citizens are acknowledging that tobacco is a serious threat to the lives of everyone around it. We can only hope that one day, everyone will come to the same realization and America will stop feeding millions upon millions of dollars into cancer promoting companies.