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Tempe Could Be First Arizona City To Make It Illegal for Drivers To Smoke With Kids in the Car

Tempe Could Be First Arizona City To Make It Illegal for Drivers To Smoke With Kids in the Car

The city of Tempe is considering a new regulation that is intended to protect children against the harmful effects of secondhand smoke, and according to AZFamily.com, the new law could go into effect within a matter of weeks. Under the new legislation, it would be illegal for adults to smoke while driving a vehicle with children in the backseat.

AZ Central notes that this law would consider the offense to be a secondary traffic violation, rather than a primary violation. In other words, police officers wouldn’t be able to pull over drivers simply for smoking while operating a motor vehicle; but if the driver is pulled over for another traffic violation, the officer can give out a traffic citation if the driver also has a cigarette lit and has a child in the backseat.

Tempe Councilman David Schapira is largely responsible for the bill, despite being one of Tempe’s newest council members. AZFamily.com states that Schapira was a strong advocate for this proposed legislation long before he was elected to the Council, and Schapira himself explained that it took multiple attempts to find an audience willing to hear his proposal.

“I ran this bill every year I was in the legislature and couldn’t even get a committee to even talk about it,” Schapira stated. “I am a firm believer in constitutional protections and liberties up to and until the point where you infringe on the rights of others.”

“When you’re strapped into the back of a vehicle and a person is smoking, you really don’t have an escape… especially here in Arizona, where it’s hot in the summer and we’ve got our windows rolled up and our ACs pumping.”

If the bill is passed, it will be the first legislation in Arizona to make it illegal for drivers to smoke in the car when children are inside — and Schapira has stated that it’s important for Tempe to make this change, being a city that has previously led the state in terms of tobacco and nicotine regulations.

The exact details of the proposal are still being worked out, but it’s likely that the new rule will apply primarily to traditional forms of cigarettes, cigars, and pipes; it seems likely that exclusions will include electronic cigarettes and vaporizers, which emit significantly less secondhand smoke and which have become incredibly popular in recent years (the latest data suggests that at least one in five American adults with a smoking habit have tried out e-cigarettes).

If the Tempe Council passes the bill, it’s likely that a first-time offender will be given a $50 fine, and it’s predicted that the law could go into effect as soon as April 2015.

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