Bill Banning Smoking in Cars with Children Sparks Debate

Feb 12, 2013

After considerable debate Monday, the state House of Representatives approved legislation making it illegal for Utah drivers to smoke in their cars if they have a child as a passenger. The debate centered not around the effects of second hand smoke, but on the role of government in our lives.

The bill would make it a secondary offense to smoke while driving with someone under 16 years old. Democratic sponsor Patrice Arent argued that it’s lawmakers’ responsibility to protect children from harm.  

“If government serves any purpose at all, it must serve the purpose of protecting those who can not protect themselves,” said Arent.  But Republican Representative Jim Nielson argued the measure is another piece of legislation that increases the role of government in citizens’ lives. 

“At some point, we must decide that we are grownups, and we have rights, said Nielson, “It’s not the role of government to change our behavior.  It is our role to change government’s behavior.  I ask you to defeat to stop the progression which started years ago, and will continue if we go down this road any further.”

The measure was approved 41 to 30.  It now advances to the state Senate.