The City council of Tempe, Arizona, US has unanimously passed an ordinance that would fine drivers $50 for a first offence and $100 for subsequent violations if they smoke while a child is in the car.
The ordinance applies to e-cigarette smokers as well. So the E-cigarette sellers felt the law unfairly conflated their product with tobacco cigarettes and asked the Council to exempt e-cigarettes.
Matt Morales, Executive Director of the National Association of Vaping Businesses, said that lumping e-cigarettes with tobacco damages the reputation of a safer alternative for those with a smoking habit.
"It's just that every time this gets closer and closer, society starts to see these things as the same thing. We strive to make sure people understand these are separate and that there is good coming from vaping," Morales said.
"There's just so many contradicting information that I still don't have clear, consistent evidence. As a parent to be smoking in the car, whatever (device) it is, I don't think that's good parenting," said Councilman Joel Navarro.
Police cannot pull over a driver solely for smoking with a child in the car. They can issue a ticket only if drivers are stopped for another infraction, such as speeding or running a red light, and have a lit cigarette with a minor present.
Courts could waive the fine for first-time offenders if they enroll in a smoking cessation program.
Critics worried that the law intruded on parental choice and could set a precedent for future laws that punish parents for spanking their kids or feeding them junk food, Schapira said.
"Deciding whether or not to spank your child, or where you want to send them to school or what they should eat, those things are parenting decisions. And there's lots of dispute in our community on all three of those things ... as to whether or not they are beneficial or harmful to our kids," said Schapira. "There is no longer any dispute as to whether or not nicotine and tobacco have harmful impacts on children."
Kingman's City Council passed a similar law a couple of days before the ordinance in Tempe and th
Schapira said although Kingman "plagiarized" Tempe's law to capture the first-in-the-state designation, he was glad other cities are following Tempe's example to protect kids from second-hand smoke.