Friday, February 8, 2008

"What About the Children!" Gone Wild.

It hurts me to have to criticize Washington in front of all you Californians, it really does. But, Washington just might be losing the plot.

Apparently, my home-state's legislature has a few members who have gone off the deep end.

Bill would limit smoking in cars carrying children.

I have no clue as to how these lawmakers would propose adequate enforcement of such a thing. Let's start with measurable limits of harmful material. Was this experiment conducted in a car that had its windows rolled up? Could the potential harm be significantly diminished if the car had been moving and its windows were rolled down?

Next, how would an officer punish this? Is it something an officer could pull someone over for if s/he happened to spot a smoking driver go by with a child seat in the back, regardless of whether or not s/he saw a child in that child seat? If, during the progress of a vehicle stop for something unrelated, could the smell of cigarette smoke coming from the car be enough to issue a citation?

Finally, Rep. Schual-Burke has a classic quote at the end of the article. Try reconciling her two sentences. 1) The government isn't telling you can you can't smoke in the privacy of your own car. 2) "We're saying...don't do it when they [the children." Sure sure.

In conclusion, I'd expect this sort of silly taking-things-too-far approach from somewhere like Berkeley, but not my beloved Washington.


Dave said...

To offer a contrary view, I am very much in favor of this law. Given the degree of evidence of the dangers of secondhand smoke, it should seem obvious that one shouldn't smoke around children. Yet, plenty of parents do. Passing the law will a) decrease the amount of smoking in enclosed spaces around children, and b) provide a paper trail record of negligent parents.

On the other hand, there are zero benefits to smoking. Zero. so from a cost/benefit standpoint, this legislation is a no-brainer. Want to smoke? OK. Either don't do it around your kids, or don't have kids. Your choice.

Equating this legislation with Berkeley's track record is ridiculous. Preventing serious health problems in children is not the same as eliminating the Marines' lease.

zdh. said...

I certainly have no qualms about the motivation behind the law. I think smoking is one of the dumbest habits a person can engage in.

My opposition to the law is mainly because it seems so impractical to enforce.

Dave said...

Msot criminal laws are difficult to enforce. But that is not a very good reason for not outlawing criminal behavior.

Most people obey laws because they are the law. When seatbelt laws are passed, seatbelt usage goes up, and deaths go down. Here, we are not even talking about something that can save your own life, we are talking about something that can save the life of innocent children from their idiot parents.