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Smoking, cell phone bans in vehicles sounds like a good thingPosted Friday, October 5, 2007, at 8:46 PM
It's not often that I agree politically with anything that is ever done in Bloomington.
But the Monroe County Commissioners get my tip of the hat for saying this week that they may at least consider a smoking ban in cars carrying children younger than 13, if details about enforcement and penalties can be resolved.
Hooray. Mark it down. I agreed with something that is being proposed in "liberal-land."
Frankly, I would be elated to see the Greene County Commissioners enact a similar ban in vehicles, but first they've got to be convinced that puffing on tobacco products in public places -- including bars and restaurants --is bad thing in this county and snuff out smoking in those locations.
Nearby NSWC Crane -- with about 5,000 employees motoring into the military base each day -- has been under a smoking ban in vehicles for several years since the arrival of current commander Capt. Mark Welsh. From what I've heard from people who work there, the employees are dealing with this "get-tough" policy.
In February, the Indiana House rejected, 51-43, a bill to ban smoking in passenger vehicles in which children under age 13 are present. But the Monroe County Board of Health approved a local proposal Tuesday night. The proposal would have to be approved by county commissioners to be enacted.
Similar bans have been adopted for areas of Arkansas, Louisiana, Maine, and New York.
Bans in other areas have differed in details.
The Arkansas law bans smoking in passenger vehicles carrying children younger than 6 in car seats. In Bangor, Maine, smoking is illegal in vehicles with passengers younger than 18.
The Associated Press reports that no city or county in Indiana is believed to have enacted a similar proposal, although the Indianapolis Airport Authority has included cars in its smoking ban on all airport-owned properties that begins Jan. 1.
How many people will have to die from second-hand smoke before the people making state and local laws wake up and do something constructive to protect those who do not wish to be exposed to it?
I realize that smoking is a "legal" practice that generates millions of dollars in tax revenues for our state and federal governments.
I know it's a choice that people make.
But enacting a law that stops people from consciously exposing our young children to the dangers of smoking while riding in a motor vehicle doesn't sound like a bad idea to me.
While we're talking about good ideas, how about the Gary City Council voting this week to ban drivers from using hand-held cell phones in the city starting Jan. 1.
Ouch. This one hits home.
The ban, modeled after a similar ban enacted in Chicago two years ago, was passed by a vote of 5-3. The ordinance requires drivers to use hands-free devices if they talk on the phone unless they are making 911 emergency calls or are talking while the vehicle is parked.
The ban does not apply to police officers or emergency vehicle drivers.
Violators will be fined $20 the first time they are caught and $50 for a second offense. If the ban is being broken when a traffic accident occurs, the additional fine would be a maximum of $200.
Can you imagine these days driving without a cell phone slammed against your ear? We did it for a long time before cell phones became such an essential way of life for all of us.
Can you say coin-operated pay phone?
And, to be real honest I'm guilty when it comes to frequently jabbering on the phone while commuting.
But you know what? I could really survive without it.
A little peace and quite while traveling might be pretty enjoyable.
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