California’s New Anti-Smoking Law Needed to Legislate Common Sense Yet Again…
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There would be no constitutional debate over California’s new anti-smoking law, SB7, that bans smoking while children are present in the vehicle. Smokers are in an uproar. I have an answer for them. Stop infringing on your kid’s civil rights by forcing them to inhale second hand smoke against their will. Use your head. Smoking poisons your body and that of your children. Get over it!
The American cancer society just released new information that cancer among all Americans has been steadily decreasing by about 2% every year since 1990, when it peaked. One can point to several things that have contributed to this progress. Since Richard Nixon declared a war on cancer in the early 1970’s, researchers and health professionals have been pecking away at treatment options, preventative measures and discovery of probable causes that fuel the disease. One of the universally accepted risks that is at the root of the most deadly cancer, that being lung cancer, is smoking. No one with an ounce of common sense can deny this. It has been well documented. Large cigarette corporations have been sued over it, health professionals have proved it and thinking people just know better. The fact is that studies suggest that smoking in cars is 10 times more risky than smoking in your home.
The core issue is that Americans aren’t very big on common sense! We continue to prove that almost on a daily basis…sooooo…legislatures are essentially forced to engage in the business of legislating common sense (which I patently disagree with by the way). But what other choice do we have? How can anyone look at their kids with a straight face and say…”Junior, I going to smoke in the car and you will inhale second hand smoke because you are my child and that is my choice. I have my rights and those rights supercede your health and well being.” It’s absurd to even think in those terms! I wouldn’t have to worry about that conundrum personally, because my wife would just knock me out with a frying pan if I ever tried it…and she should. That choice is just plain selfish. It just seems to reinforce the old saying that cigarette smoking is for the stupid. I agree.
As far as the constitutional argument goes, I feel it is without merit. You only enjoy civil rights and personal freedoms in this country as long as those rights and freedoms do not come at the expense of others. This has been established by the courts and the legal precedent is sound. We are not talking about the government controlling where you can smoke. If there are no kids in the car, smoke all you want and slowly poison yourself – that is clearly your choice. But imposing your destructive habit and the associated health risks on those who are in no position to control their own health situation is inherently wrong.
“Who is the state to tell you how you can and cannot raise your children?” asked Robert Best of Ventura, state coordinator of the Smoker’s Club Inc. They are a smoker’s rights group. “There’s a fine line between protecting my child and moving in to raise my child,” added Best, who is not a parent. “A car is private property. … What will they do next, say you can’t smoke in your home if you have kids in it?”
Another opponent, Walter Williams, a conservative commentator, said even if smoking around children is a bad idea, it isn’t the government’s job to stop people from doing it. “If we justify things on the basis of what’s good for people, there’s no end in sight,” said Williams, an economics professor at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. Williams, a smoker himself, asked if government should require an 8 p.m. bedtime for children, or educational television over video games.
I say to Mr. Williams, for every one responsible parent that doesn’t need the state to legislate the very common sense you speak of, I can show you fifty that do! Just look at the obesity crisis in this country. Some estimates have child obesity as high as 60%. Is that an adequate demonstration of common sense? We fail 30% of our high school seniors every year. Do really think parents are on top of things? I think I can make a pretty good case that they’re not. Sure this law takes a small bite out of your civil liberties and privacy but what do we – just let all of these people bombard their children with carcinogens until they develop asthma or cancer later on, in the name of that privacy? Maybe conservatives like you should just own up to the fact that smoking is a disgusting habit and basically a stupid activity to engage in and just quit. In the end, we wouldn’t need such draconian measures.
Smoking ban author Sen. Jenny Oropeza, D-Long Beach, said prohibiting smoking in a car in public view is not an invasion of privacy, and she scoffed at the “nanny government” tag.
“When we’re talking about children’s health — life and death — I do think there’s a role for government,” said Oropeza, a liver cancer survivor who resurrected the ban after two previous failed attempts. “It’s foolish and irresponsible to do anything less than we can to prevent exposing children to this carcinogen.”
A ban proposed in Connecticut was suggested by a fifth-grader.
“If you can’t eat or drink or talk on a cell phone while driving a vehicle, how can you still smoke?” asked Justin Kvadas, 10 years old, of East Hartford, who testified before his state’s legislature. “I think the government should have a say because of all the dangers,” Justin said in an interview. “Kids breathe faster and are inhaling more of the toxic chemicals.”
Citing studies by the U.S. surgeon general and the California Environmental Protection Agency, the American Lung Association says babies’ and children’s exposure to secondhand smoke contributes to asthma, lower respiratory tract and ear infections and sudden infant death syndrome.
Arkansas and Louisiana passed similar laws last year, and the city of Bangor, Maine, followed this year. Other states including Arizona, Illinois, Massachusetts, Montana and Utah, are considering the law as well according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
With any luck, the ban will take root nation wide. Let’s keep our eye on the ball people. Eradicating cancer and protecting the health of our children out-weighs a smoking habit. If Americans would ever grow a brain, accept that, and do the right thing, such laws wouldn’t be needed. In the meantime, we need to protect the selfish and the stupid from themselves once again.
Posted on October 16, 2007, in Civil Rights, Law, Politics, Social Policy and tagged anti-smoking laws, ban smoking in cars, California smoking ban, California smoking law, cancer, cancer stats, Civil Rights, Politics, right to privacy, smoking and cancer, smoking ban, smoking causes cancer, smoking hurts children. Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.