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Bill would prevent smoking in cars with children present | News

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Bill would prevent smoking in cars with children present
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CARSON CITY, Nev. -- A Nevada Assembly member is bringing forward legislation making it a crime to smoke tobacco in a car with a minor present.

Democratic Assemblyman Mike Sprinkle is sponsoring AB322, which was heard Thursday in the Assembly Judiciary Committee.

"It provides protection for the health and safety of children who cannot protect themselves," said Assemblyman Sprinkle.

The bill will prohibit motorists from smoking tobacco or electronic cigarettes in a moving or stopped car if there is a child under the age of 18 in the vehicle. The proposal would allow police to levy a $25 fine against smokers breaking the rule.

"It's kind of like child abuse," said Kameelah Purdom, supporter of AB322. "You're smoking with them in the car; you're damaging their health."

So far, the bill has the support of the medical community, including the Southern Nevada Health District.

"Cigarette smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals, including hundreds that are toxic, and about 70 that can cause cancer," said Dr. Joe Iser, SNHD Chief Health Officer.

However, it's getting mixed reviews around the Las Vegas valley.

"I'm a smoker, but I wouldn't smoke with my kids in the car," said Guadalupe Chavez, supporter of AB322.

"It just seems like it could lead to a lot more than what they're trying to pull you over for," said Percy Pickett, against AB322.

However, Sprinkle said the ticket drivers would get because of the bill wouldn't count against your driving record. He says it's a bill that will promote public health and prevent children from prolonged exposure to smoking in a contained space like a car.

Assembly Republicans are fighting the bill saying it's making it illegal to smoke.

"You're going to make it a crime to smoke. You're going to put it on someone's record because they smoked? I have a big problem with that," said Assemblyman Jim Wheeler, R-NV.

"Who's to say in a couple sessions we won't make it illegal to smoke in your house," said Assemblywoman Michele Fiore, R-NV? "I just feel we've got to be quite careful with the legislation we bring forth because we can't legislate stupid."

Republicans proposed adding an amendment that also prohibits smoking medical marijuana in a car with a minor. However, Assemblyman Sprinkle said he wouldn't support that amendment.

The committee has yet to vote on the bill. If passed Nevada would become the eighth state to enact the ban.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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