Secondhand Smoke is Harmful…but Don’t Tell That to 57 Republican Legislators

August 7th, 2019

 Second-Hand Smoke is Harmful…but Don’t Tell That to 57 Republican Legislators
(BISMARCK, ND) – Keeping children healthy and out of harm’s way is the goal for many policymakers. That’s why representatives Pamela Anderson, Gretchen Dobervich, LaurieBeth Hager, Mary Schneider, and Senator Kathy Hogan introduced a bill seeking to ban smoking in a motor vehicle when children under age nine are present. The proposed legislation was a sensible way to keep children from the harms of second-hand smoke. However, 57 Republican legislators disagreed, and the bill was defeated.

This bill had failed in previous sessions as well, with arguments from the other side centered around “personal choice.” Representative Dan Ruby (R-Minot) stated, “There’s a real personal property issue here” and used the slippery slope fallacy asking, “will the home will be next?” Representative Robin Weisz (R-Hurdsfield)  asked: “How far are you willing to go?” As if protecting children from a cancer-causing agent is too radical.

The dangers children face if they are in the car with an adult who to chooses to smoke are real and devastating. The Center for Disease Control lists the dangers of second-hand smoke:
  • Infants who are exposed to secondhand smoke after birth are also at greater risk for SIDS.
  • Chemicals in secondhand smoke appear to affect the brain in ways that interfere with its regulation of infants’ breathing.
  • Children whose parents smoke get sick more often. Their lungs grow less than children who do not breathe secondhand smoke, and they get more bronchitis and pneumonia.
  • Secondhand smoke can trigger an asthma attack in a child. Children with asthma who are around secondhand smoke have more severe and frequent asthma attacks. A severe asthma attack can put a child’s life in danger.

“Asking adults to refrain from smoking in a vehicle with children under age nine is not a property rights or personal choice issue, it’s a public safety issue,” said Alison Jones, Communications Director of the North Dakota Democratic-NPL Party. “No one is asking adults to never smoke again, this legislation would simply prevent adults from exposing young children to toxic cigarette smoke. It’s not radical, it’s not overreach, it’s just logical.”