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Ban On Smoking In Cars With Kids May Be Tough Sell In N.C.

Posted February 5, 2004

— Lawmakers in Georgia are considering a measure to require drivers to put the window down before lighting up whenever kids are in the car. That idea has some support in the Triangle, but some people said not to look for it to get off the ground.

Paula Wolf, who lobbies the North Carolina Legislature on behalf of children's groups, said deep tobacco roots make any legislation against tobacco a tough sell.

"I don't see it happening in my lifetime," she said. "North Carolina has the third lowest tobacco excise tax in the country and that is not going to change in the near future."

The Legislature has been able to pass laws banning smoking in some public places like some universities and public schools, but the law may get a little tricker when legislating what people can do in their own cars.

"That's a private area and it's very difficult to get the Legislature to take action when it has to do with someone's private property," said Rep. Deborah Ross, D-Wake.

"That's a conscious decision that each adult and parent for that matter has to make. I don't think the government should step in and make that decision for them," smoker Keith Pickens said.

The North Carolina Child Care Commission is considering banning home child-care providers from smoking in vehicles with children inside. The group is also talking about a ban on smoking in home child-care settings.

According to health experts, 85 percent of all smoke from cigarettes is not inhaled by the smoker. That smoke contains more than 4,000 chemicals, including 40 that are known to cause cancer and 200 that are known poisons. Secondhand smoke also has two times the tar and nicotine inhaled by a smoker because it is not filtered.

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