Maryland smoking law: Ban on smoking in cars with children receives preliminary approval

ANNAPOLIS (AP, ABC7) - A bill that would make it illegal to smoke in a vehicle in the presence of a child under 8 years old has received preliminary approval in the Md. state Senate Monday.

The Senate blocked two amendments Monday night that were offered by Republican state Sen. Edward Reilly.

Reilly tried to change the bill so a violation of the law would be a secondary, rather than a primary, offense. As a primary offense, a police officer would be able to pull someone over for the offense.

Senators also shot down an amendment that would have prevented a child from riding in a vehicle in which someone had smoked at all.

Most smokers interviewed by ABC7 said the bill goes too far.

"They can't enforce the laws they have, and they are going to make more laws they can't enforce. That seems silly," said Alice Coup, a longtime smoker.

"I get the 'protect your children' aspect of it, but the government needs to back up out of people's lives," said Patty Herrell.

Parents of children interviewed in Maryland, however, have a different opinion.

"I don't think you should be smoking around children ever. No matter if they are 16, no matter if they are 5, no matter if they are an infant," said Olga Rozman.

The original version of the bill called to ban smoking in cars with children under the age of 16, but late last week, lawmakers amended the bill to apply to children under 8.

Proponents of the bill say police could enforce the law by looking for children who are riding in car seats. All children under 8 years old are required by law to ride in car seats.

Supporters of the law say keeping secondhand smoke away from children is worth the difficulty in enforcing it.

"[Smoking is] something I would never do and something I do not want my children exposed to," said Monica McGrath.

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