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Follow VPR's statehouse coverage, featuring Pete Hirschfeld and Bob Kinzel in our Statehouse Bureau in Montpelier.

House Moves To Ban Smoking In Cars With Kids

The Vermont House has given its preliminary approval to legislation that makes it illegal to smoke in a car with young children as passengers.

The proposal was added to a larger bill that clarifies existing restrictions on smoking in public buildings and work places.

Rep. Patti Komline, R-Dorset, was the lead sponsor of the amendment. She cited many health risks that young children face when they’re exposed to second hand smoke. She said the concentration of the tobacco smoke in a car magnified these risks.

“An infant strapped into a car seat is involuntarily and intensely exposed to more than 400 toxic chemicals in tobacco smoke,” Komline said. “They have no choice and no voice whether their parents smoke in the car. I hope you join me in supporting this amendment and giving these children a voice.”

The House postponed action on another amendment that would have raised the legal age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21.

Rep. George Till, D-Jericho, said the plan was needed because 90 percent of adult smokers begin smoking when they’re teenagers.

The House Human Services committee expressed interest in the amendment but asked for more time to thoroughly study the proposal.

Till withdrew his amendment with the understanding that the committee will expedite its review of his amendment.