South Australia is set to follow the US State of Arkansas by banning smoking in cars when children are present – and has taken the ban even further. Where Arkansas has a US$25.00 fine for smoking in a car prohibits smoking in a car that is carrying a child who is required to be restrained in a safety seat – that’s a child under 7 years old or weighing under 60 pounds – South Australia defines a “child” as under sixteen, and the on-the-spot fine is AU$75.00.

Substance Abuse Minister Gail Gago introduced the bill into State Parliament yesterday, following some months of speculation, according to the Adelaide Advertiser :

http://www.news.com.au/adelaidenow/story/0,22606,20765773-5006301,00.html

This follows a ban on smoking in work vehicles.

Ms. Gago cited Canadian findings that suggest the low ceilings and limited space in a car concentrates second-hand smoke at a child’s head height to create an environment many times more toxic than in a house where there are smokers.

The April 2006 Arkansas legislation is designed to protect very young children, and ironically was filed by Bob Mathis, a vehement opponent on bans on smoking in the workplace, said The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette:

http://www.nwanews.com/adg/News/151141/

I’m all for protecting the little kids, and all too aware that many fifteen-year-olds have been smoking for some years; but why set the age limit so high? If head height is a significant factor then it’s more logical to ban smoking from cars carrying passengers under five foot two, since many fifteens are the height of a short adult.

But then, of course, there would be a risk of appearing discriminatory against – say – short women like me. And I can buy cigarettes legally and contribute enormous amounts of tobacco tax to the government coffers. But I don’t. Because I don’t smoke.

Angela Cockburn blogs only here.

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