Formaldehyde, benzene, vinyl chloride, arsenic, ammonia, and hydrogen cyanide. Those are just a few of the 250 cancer-causing or toxic chemicals that the Surgeon General reports are in secondhand smoke. It’s no wonder that Oregon lawmakers have voted to make smoking in cars with children illegal in the state. On Wednesday, the Senate voted 19-10 in favor of the ban, and now it will be sent to the House.
Supporters are not only noting that secondhand smoke is dangerous to children especially, but that smoking in cars is unfair to kids because they are forced to sit in an unsafe environment. On the other hand, critics are arguing that Oregon has no right to tell people how to parent.
The facts don’t lie. Secondhand smoke is horrible for children’s health. For children who already suffer from asthma, their attacks happen more often and are more violent when exposed to secondhand smoke. Secondhand smoke exposure also leads to bronchitis and pneumonia, among other acute lower respiratory infections, which can be especially dangerous and severe for young children. Ear infections are also more likely to occur, which oftentimes lead to the insertion of ear tubes for drainage. On top of all of those things, children’s overall respiratory health is sacrificed, leaving them to experience wheezing, coughing, and breathlessness.
Violators of the ban would be fined $250 for their first offense and $500 thereafter. The violation is only a secondary offense, but it looks like Oregon has definitely set an example that other states should look into following.