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Va. lawmakers shoot down smoking law

Jan. 17, 2013 at 3:23 PM

RICHMOND, Va., Jan. 17 (UPI) -- Virginia lawmakers Thursday decided to not make smoking in a car with a child present illegal.

The legislation, which would have banned smoking in a vehicle if a child under 13 is present, was proposed by Del. Joe Morrissey, The (Norfolk) Virginia-Pilot reported.

It would have been a secondary offense, meaning the offender could be ticketed only after being stopped for another offense. Those cited would have received a $100 civil penalty.

When arguing for his bill, Morrissey said because children's respiratory systems are not fully developed, they are more susceptible to second-hand smoke. "We need to protect children just like we protect them with a car seat," the Henrico County Democrat said.

Morrissey's bill was shot down by a House subcommittee in a 3-3 tie vote.

"You're crossing a line into regulating it on private property," said subcommittee chairman, Del. Ben Cline, R-Rockbridge County told Morrissey. "I'm not inclined to cross that line myself. It's poor parenting to expose children to second-hand smoke, but is it the state's responsibility to enforce it? I don't think so."

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