Emily Rice Published

Bill To Ban Smoking While Driving With A Minor Present Passes Both Chambers

Two hands are seen smoking cigarettes with smoke standing stark against a black background.Victoria Alexandrova/iStockphoto

A bill to ban smoking in a car with a minor present is headed to the governor to become law.

Senate Bill 378 aims to slow rates of lung cancer in West Virginia by prohibiting a person 18 years or older from smoking in a car with someone under the age of 16. The driver must already be pulled over for another infraction to be fined the $25 penalty.

Proponents for the bill, including several doctors in the Senate and the House, said the legislation is meant to bring to light the harm of secondhand smoke on children.

Sen. Tom Takubo, R-Kanawha, and vice chair of the Senate Health Committee, spoke in favor of passage of the bill during a committee meeting on Feb. 6.

“It’s the most severe thing in terms of fear of any patient when they have a condition where they literally can’t breathe,” Takubo said. “And when you’re in a confined space, like a vehicle, these kids’ asthma flare tremendously.”

Opponents argued for parent’s rights and voiced concerns about big government.

The bill passed the House on third reading without discussion on Thursday, March 7 and now heads to Gov. Jim Justice’s desk for his signature.

Appalachia Health News is a project of West Virginia Public Broadcasting with support from Marshall Health.