In Oregon, support for a ban on smoking in cars with kids is well on its way to the Governor. Senate Bill 444 which passed the Oregon Senate last week would allow police to ticket drivers who were caught smoking in their car if anyone under 18 was present after they were pulled over for another offense.
It’s another example in a long list of arbitrary and capricious “nanny state” regulations, but it passed easily.
The action is no different than what the “Soda Jerk” – NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg – has attempted by imposing his will for the sheer sake of being a true believer in the lifesaving consequences of HIS health agenda. It would be similar to – and I hate to even provide the idea – the Portland Mayor forcing top-shelf restaurants such as Andina and The Chart House to no longer serve bottles of wine as a way to fight alcoholism.
Independent of what I think about this second-hand cigarette smoking measure, I’m unapologetically against “nanny state” regulation and government highhanded scolding through regulation. These so-called “substantive bills” seem to have no limit to the government imposing their will for the sheer sake of it.
But, I’m not blogging to rail about poor parenting skills, or scold people for excessive Cherry Coke consumption or promote a car smoking ban. Rather, once the regulators keep kids safe from second hand smoke where do their idle hands focus next? Likely on our bedrooms with unmanned vehicles spying monitoring from the back yard patio?!
According to this report (.pdf) only nine % of Oregonians think the government spends money wisely. The fact that state legislators spent any time on a second-hand smoke issue – which isn’t on anyone’s top 10 list – just amplifies the point.
If a mental break is needed from addressing big issues like PERS reform, streamlining the tax code or fixing the corrections budget, take some time to ponder the number of Oregonians who are effected by road conditions.
As regulators race to Salem complaining about drivers on their cell phones “parked” in the left lane… slow down and look at the poor conditions of the pavement. I invite you to check out the pavement on OR 217, where fewer than 100K+ vehicles travel daily. It’s so severely rutted that sections are dangerous for motorcycle travel. Automobiles changing lanes pepper cars with loose asphalt from the rutted right side to the rutted left lane and bounce around until they settle into the ruts. It’s worse during the rain… which is 300 days of the year! The last time major repaving occurred on OR 217 was back in 2006. Prior to ‘06 it was repaved in 1994.
There are sections of OR 217 that should be classified as “structurally deficient” and signs should be erected in places similar to the “Motorcycles Use Extreme Caution” in Washington State.
The funding and road repair priorities in the state are a big issue. The second-hand smoke while driving bill is nothing but a distraction and disguised to make voters believe regulators are doing something in the capital.
Hey Salem… we’re watching!
UPDATE: March 28, 2013 – The Oregon Legislature tried to pass a similar smoking bill (HB 2385) in the 2009 session. And according to this report seven states currently ban smoking in automobiles with children under the age of 18 years old. Interestingly, there are currently 17 states which ban smoking in vehicles while transporting foster children, including the state of Oregon. The report provides a number of reasons to support smoke-free vehicles when children are present.
UPDATE: June 4, 2013 – The Oregon House yesterday passed Senate Bill 444 in 43-15 vote against the objections of some lawmakers who groused about it as a “nanny state” provision. The bill will allow police to ticket smokers if the were pulled over for another offense. The violation would cost $250 for the first offense and $500 for subsequent offenses. The bill now heads to Gov. Kitzhaber, who has said he will sign it.
Photo courtesy of Firestone. Full Disclosure: As an aging blogger and survivor of smoking parents and lifelong non-smoker myself I’m sure the Smithsonian will be looking for a location to display my corpse.