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New legislation could prohibit smoking in a car with a child

If state Rep. Rolanda Hollis has her way, people who smoke in vehicles with children would face a fine.

The bill filed by Hollis would make it illegal to smoke tobacco in a car when a child 14 or younger is present. The fine would be $100 for violators.

Rep. Hollis to the Associated Press that an adult has a choice to make on whether to smoke or get out of a car when someone is smoking; however, children do not have a choice. Eleven other states have similar laws in place.

A similar bill was introduced last year but did not win final approval. The American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation says that exposing passengers, both children and adults, to secondhand smoke in a confided space of a car is extremely hazardous.

The organization maintains that the exposure is particularly harmful to children whose smaller bodies take in a larger volume of air.

“When someone smokes in the small enclosed space of a car or other vehicle, people breathe toxic air at levels many times higher than what the EPA considers hazardous, even when a window is down. Additionally, the gases and particulates of tobacco smoke absorb into the upholstery and other surfaces inside a car—which is called thirdhand smoke—and it then re-emits back into the air over time, which exposes passengers to toxins long after anyone actually smoked in the car,” the site says.

The Alabama Department of Public Health says there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke.

Children exposed to secondhand smoke are at an increased risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, acute respiratory infections, ear problems, severe asthma, and reduced lung function. More people die every year from smoking than murder, AIDs, suicide, car crashes, and alcohol combined.

Susan Short, director of the Covington County Children’s  Policy Council said that the Centers for Disease Control says that secondhand smoke is particularly harmful to young children because a burned cigarette contacts about 7,000 chemicals with at least 69 of these being toxic and found to cause cancer.

Here, is just a few of the chemicals found in tobacco smoke: Acetone, which is found in nail polish remover; ammonia, which is found in household cleaner;  arsenic, which is used in rat poison and more

“The Mayo Clinic lists these Second-Hand smoke risks for children, who are especially vulnerable:   Low birth weight. Exposure to secondhand smoke during pregnancy increases the risk of having a baby with a reduced birth weight.  Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).    Secondhand smoke exposure is believed to increases the risk of SIDS.  Asthma and respiratory illness. Secondhand smoke exposure is linked with the increased risk — and severity — of childhood asthma and wheezing.  Infections. Infants of parents who smoke are more likely to develop bronchitis and pneumonia during the first year of life,” Short said.