The parents of the baby are smoking cigarettes. Puff after puff. Cigarette after cigarette. The smoke has nowhere to go. It just fills up the car. The helpless baby is trapped. She can’t help but breathe all that filthy smoke.
Well, Rep. Pam Anderson, D-Fargo, wants to make that a crime in North Dakota. If re-elected, she plans to introduce a bill that would ban adults from smoking in a car if children are present.
“The kids are defenseless,” Anderson said. “We have to protect them against the dangerous poisons they are inhaling.”
Anderson is spot-on in her assessment. Secondhand smoke is extremely dangerous. It contains more than 7,000 chemicals. Hundreds of those chemicals are toxic. Secondhand smoke can cause cancer, asthma, ear infections, respiratory infections (such as bronchitis and pneumonia) and sudden infant death syndrome. Secondhand smoke is especially dangerous for children, because they have small organs that are developing.
There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke, and there is no good reason for a defenseless baby to have to breathe it in. Anderson says she frequently sees small children stuck in cars where adults are smoking, and it breaks her heart.
“It makes no sense to put our children in car seats to protect them, and then we expose them to secondhand smoke,” Anderson said. “We need to think of the safety of those children.”
Anderson’s idea for North Dakota is catching on around the rest of the country. There are now nine states that ban smoking in cars when children are present. They range from the blue states of California and Vermont to the red states of Arkansas and Louisiana.
Anderson has proven herself to be an effective advocate for health and public safety. She introduced the medical marijuana bill, which was defeated in