BISMARCK â€“ North Dakota students and tobacco-free supporters gave state lawmakers an hourâ€™s worth of reasons Friday about why they should outlaw smoking with kids in the car.
More than a dozen Williston and Bismarck students attended the hearing to show their support for House Bill 1150.
The bill would ban smoking in vehicles if children younger than 13 are present, even if a window is rolled down. The proposed fine is $50.
Several students talked about their health problems from secondhand smoke or presented research on the topic.
From the age of zero to 5, children can inhale 102 packs of cigarettes from secondhand smoke, said Austin Anderson, a freshman at Williston High School.
â€œWhat choice does this child have? We buckle them in a car seat for safety. Put a blanket over their heads so they donâ€™t breathe in cold air. Yet we expose them to deadly toxins,â€ he said.
Williston High School freshman Hailey Bendixson spoke of growing up around secondhand smoke and the related health problems that caused her to miss school.
She told lawmakers that other states such as Arkansas, Louisiana and California have passed similar laws banning smoking with kids in the car.
â€œPlease remember, it is the parentsâ€™ idea to smoke in the car with children present, not the childrenâ€™s,â€ Bendixson said. â€œI encourage you to lend your support and vote yes on this bill.â€
The bill previously failed with an age limit of 16. Supporters decided to try the bill again this session with an age of 13.
Bismarck physical education/health teacher Amy Heuer brought students from a tobacco-free student group who wanted to support the bill.
â€œOur kids do want smoke-free cars. And itâ€™s not teachers that are telling them that,â€ she said. â€œItâ€™s not health people that are saying, â€˜Hey, you need to do this.â€™ The kids want to breathe smoke-free air in vehicles.â€
No one testified against the bill Friday, though a few lawmakers have expressed doubts that it will pass.
Rep. Gary Sukut, R-Williston, one of the billâ€™s co-sponsors, said some lawmakers have spoken against legislating common sense.
â€œBut you know what? We do,â€ Sukut said, pointing to seat belt and helmet laws. â€œWe pass common sense things to protect ourselves against our own ignorance, I guess weâ€™d have to say.â€
The bill would not break new ground, and the pros outweigh the cons, he said.
â€œIf you donâ€™t believe thereâ€™s potential harm there from secondhand smoke, then you havenâ€™t listened because I think thereâ€™s plenty of facts that have been put out this morning,â€ Sukut told his fellow lawmakers.
The House Transportation Committee did not act on the bill.