Ohio may ban smoking in cars with young children

Ohio lawmakers are considering a law banning drivers from smoking if there’s a passenger in the car under the age of six.

Senate Bill 78, sponsored by state Sen. Tina Maharath, D-Canal Winchester, proposes a $500 fine for violators of the law, and for subsequent violations be fined $500 plus $250 for each additional violation.

Related: Decade after smoking ban, more than 20% of Ohioans still smoke

The bill has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Similar bills have been considered in the last session and the session before that. The law has been promoted as a way to protect children from the health consequences of second hand smoke, which can lead to asthma, ear infections and other health problems.

Ohio has a poor record when it comes to children exposed to the health risks of second hand smoke. Ohio ranked 49th out of 50 when it comes to states with the highest percent of children who live in a home where someone uses tobacco and smokes inside the home, according to Health Policy Institute of Ohio's 2017 Health Value Dashboard.

Other states such as Arkansas, California, Louisiana, Maine, Oregon, Utah and Vermont have already adopted restrictions on smoking with minors in vehicles.

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