California’s New Anti-Smoking Law Needed to Legislate Common Sense Yet Again…


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 , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. If you lower a car window an inch, all smoke is sucked outside, So the issue, like all antismoking bullshit, is totally phony. The real issue is whether children should be raised by the government like livestock on the grounds that parents are too stupid. Let’s see how that one goes over.

  2. Joe Camel,

    Come on Joe. I smoked and quit. You know as well as I do that ‘most’ of the smoke goes out the window. That’s not even the issue here. The real issue here is that we have to raise kids like livestock because stupidity has taken such a firm root in American culture that we are left with few options to protect kids other than this type of legislation. I can come up with ten examples of dumb parents putting kids in harms way from the news just in the last few weeks! By the way, I’m not suggesting you’re one of those people. Rolling the window down is the right thing to do. Many people don’t though. You’d be suprised.

  3. While I appreciate the desire to protect children from secondhand smoke exposure in cars, I’’m afraid that the proposal to ban smoking in cars occupied by children represents an unwarranted intrusion into the privacy and autonomy of parenthood. The autonomy to make one’’s own decisions about what risks to subject a child to is not to be interfered with lightly. It should only be done in cases where there is a substantial threat of severe harm to the child. Interfering with parental autonomy in a case where there is only minor risk involved is unwarranted.

  4. Matthew:

    My parents smoked like stoves in the car and it never hurt me in the slightest. If you want to dictate to parents, you’d better be prepared to pay child support, and you’d better find a less fraudulent excuse.

    Who’s minding your business?

  5. The bottom line on these smoking bans is..
    To denormalize smoking.
    To quarantine/isolate the smoker

  6. Re: California’s New Anti-Smoking Law Needed to Legislate Common Sense Yet Again…by Matthew J. Podoba

    Anti-Smoking Facade Crumbling

    The conclusions of the following information coincides with the fact that demoralizing, dictatorial smoke-free legislations make people emotionally/psychologically ill. Good emotional/psychological health makes physical health work, not the reverse.

    ‘Councilman James Gennaro is introducing a bill to ban smoking in automobiles if a minor is present,’ New York, August 15, 2007. Robert Madden, M.D., Former President of the New York Cancer Society wrote in The New York Sun, “He wants to control everyones behaviour. And he can’t, he can only try. These efforts are based on data, both old and new, on the effects of secondhand smoke. This data is scientifically weak and controversial. The most recent example of this is found in the 2006 Surgeon General’s report on the effects of secondhand smoke.”

    ‘Medical Journal critcizes WHO for neglecting evidence, The Associated Press, May 7, 2007.’ When developing evidence-based guidelines, the World Health Organization routinely forgets one key ingredient: evidence. The medical journals (Lancet) criticism of WHO will shock many in the global health community, as one of WHO’s main jobs is to produce guidelines on everything from fighting the spread of bird flu and malaria control to enacting anti-smoking legislation. WHO’s director of research policy Dr. Tikki Pang said that some of the WHO colleagues were shocked by Lancet’s study, but he acknowledged the criticism had merit, and explained that time pressures and a lack of both information and money sometimes compromised WHO work.

    The actual result of anti-smoking legislation is increased fear, anxiety, depression and therefore mental and physical illness. It affects smokers, their families, and other children whose minds are being preyed upon by constant government attempts to control their smoking behaviour.

  7. You’re making many claims here about how qutting smoking works to erode your mental and physical health. However, you failed to list ‘specific’ sources, meaning citations that can be checked or links to data to support your position. I think your claims that qutting smoking is inherently unhealthy are a crock until you show me otherwise. I’ve never heard of the things you are claiming.

  8. Re: Sources

    Low Self-Esteem Discredits Smoke-Free

    Low self-esteem is the #1 preventable killer in Ontario/Canada today, not smoke-free. Smoke-free is merely an afterthought. Low self-esteem negatively alters one’s body chemistry, thus attacking and weakening the immune system. Susceptibility to mental disease and most forms of serious physical disease then becomes higher risk.

    Through years of deterioration low (negative) self-esteem acts as a trigger mechanism for such causes and effects as persistently low resistance to illness, chronic anxiety or depression, suicide, controlling and manipulative behaviour, or crimes of violence. Low self-esteem can be a disturbance in anyone’s life.

    Positive self-esteem is an on-going source of confidence in our ability to think, a sense of worthiness, a feeling of psychological well-being, a realization of self-fulfillment. With positive self-esteem optimism is our driving force and joy is its reward. Noted Psychotherapist Nathaniel Branden states, “The level of our self-esteem has profound consequences for every aspect of our existance.”

    This government’s constant dire warnings, their dictatorial smoke-free legislations, their environmentally politicized smoking research, their pernicious treatment of smokers, their attempted exploitation of children’s thinking, disrupt, jeopardize the fragile, often traumatic, process of our youth gaining positve self-esteem, ‘finding themself.’

    Of youthful importance, low self-esteem is the leading cause of chronic aimlessness, school dropouts, pregnant adolescents, drug and alcohol addiction, bullying and eating disorders. For parents, positive self-esteem is the most promising opportunity one can ever bestow upon their children. It is their future. A wise poet wrote, “From within a child learning to share, by choice, self-esteem is born.” This is the spark, but the actions of these governments would extinguish that spark forever.

    Governments with a master/slave mentality require that the citizens be mentally, emotionally, and physically weakened, in a demoralized state, causing low self-esteem. This is a prerequisite in order to rule. Documentation has recorded the abhorrent history of anti-smoking regimes. Is this why the Ontario/Canadian governments have not infomed us; or why their many advisors remain silent about such a critical human requirement?


    The New York Sun- Dr. Robert Madden

    Medical journal criticizes WHO for neglecting evidence.

    Nathaniel Branden- Noted Psychotherapist
    Book- The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem

    Robert Reasoner- President of the International Council for Self-Esteem

  9. MJ "revoltingpawn"


    Are you saying it’s OK to have black lungs if have a good self- esteem? Please don’t tell me positive thinking will keep the lung cancer away when smoking two packs a day for twenty years.

  10. Ken,

    I don’t have an issue with the negative effects of low self-esteem over time, but how is anti-smoking tied to that? You mean to say that banning smoking lowers self esteem? I looked through your references and there is no link between the two. Your argument is unsupported and therefore not valid.

  11. For someone that relies on supported evidence, the first letter that I sent, “Anti-Smoking Facade Crumbling,” verifies that the government, and their backers, lack any trustworthy sources, they are unsupported. The courageous work of Dr. Robert Madden, and Lancet medical journal should have been celebrated, especially by someone that claims individual rights, of course, with the exception of smoking in a car with a child in attendance. You seem to have failed to make that vital correlation between these circumstances. But I did make that correlation.

    I will again include the references to Dr. Robert Madden and Lancet medical journal, so that all of your readers can feast on the information: The New York Sun, Dr. Robert Madden, and Medical journal criticizes WHO for neglecting evidence,

    The magnificent information and ideas that I presented will stand against any contradictory claims .

  12. Just curious if anyone would change their arguments if they realized that the vast majority of studies in to second-hand smoke or environmental tobacco smoke or whatever you want to call it, have shown virtually NO RELATIONSHIP between exposure and disease risk!

    “””Environmental tobacco smoke and tobacco related mortality in a prospective study of Californians, 1960-98

    James E Enstrom, researcher1, Geoffrey C Kabat, associate professor2

    Participants 118 094 adults enrolled in late 1959 in the American Cancer Society cancer prevention study (CPS I), who were followed until 1998.

    Results For participants followed from 1960 until 1998…No significant associations were found for current or former exposure to environmental tobacco smoke before or after adjusting for seven confounders and before or after excluding participants with pre-existing disease. No significant associations were found during the shorter follow up periods of 1960-5, 1966-72, 1973-85, and 1973-98.”””

    Published in the prestigious British Medical Journal.,2,3,4,10

    The biggest hit on this particular study is that it received part of it’s funding from the tobacco industry. The actual TRUTH is that the funding was provided by THE AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY for about 90% of the study UNTIL preliminary results began coming out, at which point the ACS yanked the funding. In order to complete the study, the ONLY source of funding to be found was the tobacco industry.

    This is but one of many studies worldwide to show NO LINK between ETS and disease. In fact, when the EPA originally declared ETS a carcinogen, it cherry picked only about 1/4 of the data that supported it’s position while “throwing out” the other 3/4 of the available data that showed no risk. To the extent that the US Supreme Court ruled that the EPA had overstepped it’s bounds in the very declaration.

    Therefore, the entire basis of smoking bans are based on a massive disinformation campaign.

  13. It’s not about anything health related it’s about control.The goverment steps in takes over you parental role.Pretty soon we will just be having children so the goverment can raise t hem for us.

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