A bill that would prohibit smoking in a vehicle with a child less than 5 years old received unanimous committee approval this morning.
SB14 makes smoking in a car with a minor passenger who must legally be strapped into a car safety seat a secondary offense, with a fine of $45 that can be waived if the driver enrolls in a smoking cessation program.
Sponsor Sen. Scott McCoy, D-Salt Lake, said his bill is not anti-smoking legislation or an effort to impose more government control into people's lives.
"This is not saying you can't smoke in your car, but with a child present, that's going to be a problem," McCoy said, noting that a burning cigarette in a matter of a few seconds creates air pollutants 10 to 30 times the toxicity levels of a state Department of Health "red alert" burn warning.
Breathing in pollutants of a red alert day is equal to smoking five cigarettes, McCoy said. "Smoking inside a car is 10 to 30 times that."
Senate Health and Human Services chairman Sen. Chris Buttars, R-West Jordan, said he is normally opposed to bills asking for more government regulation. "You now, where the government decides if you should eat Cheerios or Rice Krispies for breakfast."
But when it involves a passenger who can't roll down a window or even if they can get in the car in the first place, this bill is more than warranted, Buttars said.
Sen. Allen Christensen, R-North Ogden, said he supports the bill but believes that law enforcement officers are as likely to look the other way as they are to cite a driver.