Proposed bill to ban smoking in car with kids sparks heated debate

Health professionals say it could save children from chronic health problems but critics argue the government shouldn't be involved

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Health professionals are backing a new state proposal to ban smoking with a young child in the car.

The Ohio bill, proposed on Tuesday, marks the third time legislation on this topic has been introduced. If it passes, smoking with a child under 6 years old in the car would be illegal in the state.

“If parents don’t know enough not to do that to their children, then maybe the government does need to step in,” said Johanna Nuzzo, of Boardman.

Ivan Vincenzini, also of Boardman, quit smoking 25 years ago. Even before that, he took precautions to minimize his children’s exposure to cigarette smoke.

“I used to smoke in the garage to prevent smoke getting into my kids’ lungs,” Vincenzini said.

If you’re a parent caught with a young kid in the backseat while you’re smoking, it would land you a $500 ticket.

According to a Surgeon General’s report, secondhand smoke causes disease, including cancer.

Dr. Asif Khan, an allergist and immunologist, said he sees this issue with almost 30 percent of his child patients.

“They should have done this 30 years ago. Having these types of laws would have saved a lot of ER visits. They would have saved a lot of chronic problems that children can develop because the lungs are still developing at that time, which is the key.”

He said a good amount of those young patients end up with asthma.

Not everyone agrees with the penalty, though.

When WKBN first posted news of the proposed bill to our Facebook page, several people took to the comment section saying they didn’t think the government should be stepping into people’s personal spaces.

Khan said in this case, more government involvement is necessary.

“It does help if you can stop that from actually happening. Sure, it’s going to make government a little bit bigger, but I think this is probably a good thing. Whenever it comes to health, it’s probably a good thing.”

The Surgeon General report also said the toxic air level in a car when someone is smoking is up to ten times greater than the level the EPA considers dangerous.

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