MADISON, Conn. (WTNH) – Some students at Madison’s Daniel Hand High School are making a second run at passing a bill to make it illegal to smoke in a car with a child inside. The idea was born last school year in a Hand civics class, after a teacher saw a child being brought to a hospital with a parent smoking in the car. A group of Hand seniors got a bill into the pipeline in Hartford last year, but it was never brought up for a vote. Some lawmakers viewed the bill as an erosion of civil liberties.
This time around the students at Hand are emphasizing that their “kid in the car” smoking bill would be a secondary offense, meaning that an officer couldn’t pull someone over simply because he saw the driver smoking with a child in the car. There would have to be another reason for the stop. The proposed law would make it illegal to smoke in a car with a child that still requires a car seat. In Connecticut that means any child under the age of six, or under 60 pounds. A fine amount has not yet been set. Similar bills have been passed in California, Oregon, Maine, Vermont and Massachusetts.
Daniel Hand Senior Sandy Barrow is one of the students working to introduce the bill this time around. “The level of secondhand smoke in cars is very unhealthy for developing lungs. Even if the window is cracked a study by Harvard indicates that level of smoke reach levels of “hazardous”. Our school officer supports the bill and thinks the logistics of enforcement is not as important as protecting children’s health” Barrow said. “Parents have the obligation to keep their children safe. Children don’t have a choice about the chemicals they are exposed to if their parents are the delivery system.”
Barrow says the students are working with State Rep. Noreen Kokoruda and State Rep. Henry Genga on crafting the bill this time around.