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Bill targets smoking in car with kids present

By Amanda Verzello | Posted - Feb. 1, 2011 at 2:05 p.m.


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Youths who are exposed to secondhand smoke are prone to pneumonia, bronchitis and asthma.

SALT LAKE CITY -- A bill introduced in the Utah House of Representatives would make it illegal to smoke in cars when children are present.

"Kids should not have to ride in cars filled with smoke," Rep. Patrice Arent, D-Salt Lake, said in a news conference Tuesday.

H.B. 89 would prohibit smoking in a vehicle when youths 15 and under are present. The penalty would be up to a $45 fine that could be waived if the violator enrolls in a smoking cessation program.

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"I smoke, but will not smoke in my truck when my son is with me. I think this is a good law, even as a smoker." -- Matt N' Reggie McDonald
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"It's a common sense solution to protect Utah's children" from a "toxic environment," Arent said.

This is the fourth year the state Legislature will have the chance to create a law that would ban smoking in cars with children. A late start was one of the bill's roadblocks in previous years, said Arent, the bill's sponsor.

"We're starting early and we're working really hard," she said.

Exposure to secondhand smoke can lead to dependence later in life, said Kevin Nelson, a resident pediatrician at the University of Utah. "We may actually be priming the pump."

Youths who are exposed to secondhand smoke are prone to pneumonia, bronchitis and asthma, said Claudia Streuper, president of the Utah School Nurse Association.

"They cannot achieve their full potential unless they are healthy," she said.

E-mail: averzello@desnews.com

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Amanda Verzello

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