VA Bill Could Make Smoking in Vehicle with Child Illegal

VIRGINIA - A Virginia Senate committee endorsed legislation that could make smoking with children in the car illegal. 

The Virginia General Assembly reports the Courts of Justice Committee voted 10-5 Monday to send Senator Ralph Northam's (D) bill to the Senate floor. 

The bill would prohibit smoking in a vehicle in the presence of a child under the age of 15. The offense would be charged as a traffic infraction punishable by $100 fine. The offense would not add points against a person's license. 

Monday marked the first day of review for the bill, ending this Thursday with it's final passage. The Senate will make the final vote then. However, the decision-making process can be greatly slowed down depending on if a senator wants further review. 

If the bill does pass in the Senate it would go on to the House of Delegates and go through the same exact process before being sent to the Governor's desk. 

Although Governor Robert McDonnell has not specified whether he is for the bill or against it, his office says, as policy, he will review the bill if it reaches his desk. 

Senator Northam is also a pediatric neurologist. He explains he got the idea to write this bill from a third grader, Matthew, of Virginia, who said when his parents lit a cigarette in the car his eyes would burn and his throat would hurt. It was then that Senator Northam decided to take action. 

Senator Northam says his passion to endorse this bill is because second-hand smoke can cause and/or contribute to a number of deaths in children, including sudden infant death syndrome. It can also cause asthma and bronchitis in children.   

The American Cancer Society and the American Academy of Pediatrics supported his bill.   

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