Lawmakers consider banning smoking with kids in cars

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State May Ban Smoking In Cars With Kids

NEW HAVEN (WTIC) - Lighting up could soon cost you more. A lot more, if you do so in a car that has children in it.

SEE ALSO: Secondhand smoke hits almost half of teens who don't smoke

A legislative task force met Wednesday afternoon at the State Capitol's Legislative Office Building to discuss three specific topics on the matter.

"A ban and some sort of enforcement piece, education about the whole tobacco issue with our state, and funding," said State Rep. Noreen Kokoruda (D-Madison), a co-chair of the task force.

Last year, the bill died on the House floor because of concerns over whether such a measure could open the door to profiling. Some lawmakers said there needs to be more clearly defined penalties, such as if warnings would be part of the language and what fines would be recommended.

The public is not united on the proposal either. Some think it's a no-brainer. Others say it's just another opportunity for government to stick their nose in our business.

Kokoruda says the government is already in your car.

See the dangers of secondhand smoke:

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Lawmakers consider banning smoking with kids in cars

Severe asthma attacks and respiratory infections in infants and young children

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Heart disease in adults.

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Lung cancer in adults. 

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Sudden infant death syndrome has been attributed to secondhand smoke.

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Increased risk of a heart attack.

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"It's giving you a speed limit. It's telling you to buckle up. It's telling you put your kid in a car seat," she said, noting that the time is now to act.

"Connecticut spends over $2 billion annually on healthcare costs related to smoking," she said.

Between cigarette taxes and the big tobacco settlement, Connecticut brings in about a half billion dollars a year. Still, this year, Connecticut is proposing to spend just $1.2 million of that money on education, according to Kokoruda.

The Centers for Disease Control says Connecticut should be spending about $32 million a year on smoking cessation, but Kokoruda says, "In this economy, nobody expects us to be spending $32 million. But, we need to start phasing in more dollars."

"I don't think you should be smoking at all around the kids, even if the windows are down," said John Stabile. "You're still going to get the secondhand smoke."

After today's meeting, the task force will make recommendations to committees like public health and judiciary.

"If it doesn't impact it this year, there are many of us that want to stay involved and make sure we see it through," said Kokoruda.

The bill introduced during last year's legislative session said adults can not smoke if a child, who is required to use a restraint system or car seat, is also in the car. By law, children who are under 7 years old or weighing less than 60 pounds must use one of those restraint systems.

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