Measure would ban smoking in cars with minor passengers

SPRINGFIELD (AP) — Motorists would not be allowed to smoke while operating a vehicle if a minor is in it, according to a bill approved by the Senate Public Health Committee Tuesday.
The measure, SB 729, is sponsored by Sen. Ira Silverstein, D-Chicago. It was approved by the committee, 5-2, although African-American senators expressed concern that if the measure became law it could be used to racially profile black motorists.
Jessica Pickens, a lobbyist with the Illinois African-American Family Commission, said her group opposed the measure because of “the disproportionality by which African-Americans are racially profiled already, and stopped by law enforcement.
Pickens noted a recent ACLU study that found that while blacks make up 32 percent of Chicago’s population, they account for 72 percent of traffic stops.
Supporters of the bill said that studies have shown that second-hand smoke in cars “can reach alarmingly high levels, up to 10 times more concentrated than what the U.S. EPA considers unhealthy,” said Kathy Drea of the American Lung Association of Illinois.
She said two out of every five children in Illinois are exposed regularly to second-hand smoke.
Violation of the proposed law would be considered a petty offense with a fine not to exceed $100.
The measure now moves to the Senate floor for further consideration.
According to the Minnesota-based Public Health Law Center, four states — Arkansas, California, Louisiana and Maine — have enacted some form of smoke-free vehicle policy regarding minors.