TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senator Raymond J. Lesniak, D-Union, to fine people who smoke in cars with children present was approved today by the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee.
The bill, S-2641, passed 9-0 with bipartisan support. It now awaits action before the full Senate.
“There are very few responsibilities of law enforcement that are more important than protecting children’s health,” said Senator Lesniak, a longtime anti-smoking advocate.
“And, there are very few activities more dangerous for children than being confined in a car where someone is smoking,” he added.
“Exposing children to second-hand smoke in a car has very serious, negative health consequences and it should be illegal,” Senator Lesniak said.
The measure would impose a fine of $100 for a person found to have smoked tobacco in a motor vehicle when a child under 16 is in that vehicle. Under an amendment proposed by Senator Thomas Kean Jr. and endorsed by Senator Lesniak, money collected in fines would be designated for use by smoking cessation programs.
In addition, an amendment proposed by the Attorney General’s Office would clarify that persons stopped for suspicion of smoking tobacco in a car with children, could still be charged with more serious offenses if the substance being smoked turned out to be something illegal like marijuana or crack cocaine.
Under Senator Lesniak’s bill, no insurance surcharges or points would result from a violation.