Md. Senate votes to outlaw smoking in cars with young children as passengers

March 20, 2013

The Maryland Senate voted 27 to 20 on Wednesday to ban smoking in cars when there is a passenger younger than age 8.

Supporters of the bill, sponsored by Sen. Robert A. Zirkin (D-Baltimore County), argued that the health effects of second-hand smoke on young children are particularly detrimental in cars, and that children have no say about being there.

Drivers who violate the provision would be subject to a $50 fine.

Opponents, including Senate Minority Leader E.J. Pipkin (R-Cecil), have called the bill another step toward Maryland becoming a “nanny state.”

During Wednesday’s debate, Sen. Katherine Klausmeier (D-Baltimore County) said she understands that it is “not healthy whatsoever” to expose a child to cigarette smoke in a car.

But Klausmeier said she was voting against the bill because she feared it would not make much of a difference.

“I would prefer advertisements and education over this bill,” she said.

The bill now moves to the House, where a similar measure died last year.

John Wagner has covered Maryland government and politics for The Post since 2004.
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