Ban on smoking in cars with young children clears Md. Senate

The Maryland Senate on Wednesday approved a bill to prohibit smoking in cars if a child under 8 is a passenger, despite objections from some members who warned that the measure would lead to other bans.

The bill — which passed on a vote of 27 to 19 and now heads to the House of Delegates — would allow police to pull over violators and fine them up to $50.

Supporters of the bill said children should receive protection from second-hand smoke in cars, where they can’t avoid exposure. They argued that limiting the protection to children under 8, who must use car seats, would allow police to spot violators and enforce the law more easily.

Detractors said the ban would spur government regulations of other private behaviors, such as smoking in one’s home or feeding one’s children unhealthy food.

Sen. John C. Astle (D-Anne Arundel) invoked “1984,” a novel in which the character Big Brother represents totalitarian government. “Some of the actions that we take here look like we’re moving in that direction,” Astle said.

“This isn’t about Big Brother. It’s about little brother in the back seat,” said Sen. Jamie Raskin (D-Montgomery).

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