Bills would ban smoking in cars with kids
A bill to forbid smoking in cars carrying children is dead in the House, but a similar proposal remains alive in the Senate. House Bill 1366, sponsored by Delegate Joseph Morrissey, D-Richmond, would have made it illegal to smoke in a car if a child under 13 were in the vehicle.
The legislation would have made violations a secondary offense, meaning drivers could be cited only if pulled over for another reason. Violators could have been fined $100 under Morrissey’s bill.
A subcommittee of the House Committee on Militia, Police and Public Safety deadlocked 3-3 Thursday on whether to recommend approval of HB 1366. As a result, the motion failed.
Voting in favor of the bill were Delegates James Edmunds, R-Halifax; Israel O’Quinn, R-Galax; and Alfonso Lopez, D-Arlington.
Voting against it were Republican Delegates Benjamin Cline of Amherst, Christopher Head of Roanoke, and Tony Wilt of Harrisonburg.
There is still hope for anti-smoking legislation. Sen. Ralph Northam, a Democrat who represents parts of Norfolk and Virginia Beach, has introduced Senate Bill 975. It is like Morrissey’s proposal but would ban smoking when children under 15 are in the vehicle.
SB 975 initially was referred to the Senate Transportation Committee. Last week, that panel sent it to the Senate Courts of Justice Committee.
Northam is also sponsoring SB 1253, which would allow local governments to ban smoking in public areas such as parks and beaches.
It’s not uncommon for states to ban smoking in cars carrying children. Arkansas, Louisiana, California, Maine and Puerto Rico all have such laws. The age of the minor varies from state to state.
Anti-smoking advocates would like to see Virginia join that list.
“Virginia is far behind what other states have,” said Bronson Frick, an assistant director of Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights, a national advocacy group.
Virginia does ban smoking in restaurants, but the state law doesn’t cover other areas. “It’d help Virginia be a part of a trend with most of the United States,” Frick said.
Most states that have outlawed smoking in the car with a child present, Frick said, usually take an educational approach, too: They have a campaign to inform the public about the health risks of second-hand smoke.
“It’s not just about passing the law but also implementing it,” Frick said.
Both of Northam’s bills will be heard this week at the General Assembly.
The Children's Clothing Closet at Highland Springs United Methodist Church will be open Saturday, Aug. 27 and Tuesday, Aug. 30 to provide free new or nearly new children's clothing for families in need, prior to the start of the school year. The Clothing Closet will be open from 10 a.m. to noon both days. The church is located at 22 North Holly Avenue. > Read more.
Citizen Staff Reports 07/18/2016
Good Vibrations choral group is looking for all voices with some musical experience to sing with the volunteer choir. The season runs from August to November. Genre includes patriotic and inspirational. > Read more.
It’s a great weekend to get outside! The Pocahontas Chapter of the Virginia Native Plant Society is offering two events this weekend. Accompany the group to find and document native plants present and blooming in Echo Lake Park on Saturday or take a “Sunday Stroll” at Dorey Park to observe the seasonal changes taking place. Other outdoor events this weekend include the final summer concert at West Broad Village and “Fridays on the Patio” at James River Cellars Winery in Glen Allen. If you’re going to be outside, don’t forget the insect repellent! To learn more about avoiding those pesky mosquitos, check out Henrico County’s “Fight-the-Bite TODAY” event tomorrow. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.
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Aug. 18, 2016Click here to read the print edition.
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