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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, March 22, 2010

Cigarette? Not in front of the kids

Speaking of laws that control behavior in motor vehicles: They're not all created equal.

The Hawai'i County Council appears poised to turn the regulation meter one click too far with a bill to ban smoking in any vehicle occupied by a juvenile.

Although exposure to secondhand smoke poses an indisputable risk, there are two major problems with Bill 216, which prohibits smoking in motor vehicles with anyone under 18 on board.

First, if police have a tough time enforcing the ban on cell phone use in the car, imagine how much harder it will be to catch someone smoking with the kids in the backseat. "No, officer, that cigarette butt was already out before I picked up my kids." Any number of ready excuses come to mind.

Second, and this is obvious, but should government really stick its nose that far into personal space? Protecting people from secondhand smoke makes sense in the public setting, but it's not necessary everywhere on the planet. If banning smoking in your car is OK, why not in your home?

Incredibly, the bill received a 6-3 thumbs-up last week to advance to the full council. Two more votes, and it becomes law.

If that happens, who knows what intrusive and unenforceable measures will come from the Big Island council next? A ban on trips through the fast-food drive-through, maybe? Everyone knows that stuff's not good for you, either.