Smoking ban in cars with kids moving forward in legislature

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — A ban on smoking in cars with young kids is on the “go list” at the Connecticut House of Representatives. It’s a proposal that has been attempted for more than a half a dozen years.

Former Governor Jodi Rell, who became a grandmother while she was in office, thought this might be a good idea, but it has been stalled every year. For a decade, Connecticut has required that all kids under age seven or sixty pounds be strapped in their car seats, and kids less than a year old and under twenty pounds be strapped in and rear-facing. For the past seven years, efforts to ban smoking in cars with kids has failed to pass the legislature. This week, a bill to ban smoking in cars with young kids is finally moving forward in the House.  

“The whole purpose behind this is education; to get the message across to the public,” said bill sponsor Rep. Henry Genga, D-East Hartford.

Rep. Genga, a grandfather of nine, has been advocating for this along with some school kids from Madison, and a compromise bill is emerging.  

“The first year a violator would receive a warning,” said Rep. Genga. “After the first year there’d be an infraction, the infraction would be a single fine, $100.”

He’s getting support from Republicans as well. His co-sponsor is Republican Representative Noreen Kokoruda of Madison. 

“We already have a law that requires these kids to be restrained in car seats, and the fact that they’re in car seats and we know about secondhand smoke, I think this is really a responsible bill,” she said.

The new Republican leader in the House says she is aware that many people feel government is getting too involved in personal decisions, but this is different. 

“When you see the incidences of secondhand smoke and each year that information gets stronger and stronger and becomes more scientific that people can’t really argue that it’s not accurate,” said Rep. Themis Klarides, R-Derby.

Some kids in the senior class at Daniel Hand High School in Madison came to the Capitol this spring and testified in favor of this law.