New Jersey Considers Ban on Smoking While Driving
A New Jersey assemblyman has introduced a bill to ban smoking in cars.
Ashtrays have been disappearing in cars like fins on Cadillacs, and so could smoking while driving in New Jersey, under a measure introduced in the Legislature. Although the measure faces long odds, it still has smokers incensed and arguing itÃ¢€™s a Big Brother intrusion that threatens to take away one of the few places they can enjoy their habit. Ã¢€œThe day a politician wants to tell me I canÃ¢€™t smoke in my car, thatÃ¢€™s the day he takes over my lease payments,Ã¢€ said John Cito, a financial planner from Hackensack with a taste for $20 cigars.
Some states, including New Jersey, have considered putting the brakes on smoking while children are in the car. But none have gone for an outright ban on smoking while driving, according to Washington, D.C.-based Action on Smoking and Health, the countryÃ¢€™s oldest anti-tobacco organization.
Assemblyman John McKeon, a tobacco opponent whose father died of emphysema, sponsored the legislation. He cites a AAA-sponsored study on driver distractions in which the automobile association found that of 32,000 accidents linked to distraction, 1 percent were related to smoking.
While this measure is considered to have little chance of success, so would the current level of smoking prohibition when viewed twenty years ago. McKeon is almost certainly on to something; smokers are among the most reviled groups in society and one of the few against whom it is still fashionable to harbor prejudice. (And I don’t necessarily exclude myself from the anti-smoking crowd.)
The rationale he offers, though, is staggering in its implications. Presumably, there are currently-legal practices drivers engage in–changing the CD player, looking for a new radio station during commercials, consuming drive-through French fries–that cause more than 320 accidents.