CHARLESTON, WV (LOOTPRESS) – The West Virginia State Senate on Monday passed a bill that would make it illegal to smoke in a vehicle when a minor aged 16 or under is present.
Senate Bill 378, introduced by Senator Tom Takubo (R-Kanawha), would ban smoking in motor vehicles when children aged 16 or younger are present.
Violating this rule constitutes a misdemeanor, with a fine of up to $25 upon conviction, and no additional court costs or fees for this specific violation.
Enforcement is a secondary action, applicable only when a driver is detained for probable cause of violating another section of the state code.
Additionally, each violation is considered a single offense, regardless of the number of children in the vehicle.
Sen. Takubo says this bill is more of a public service announcement for the general public.
“This [bill] came from a patient that had a father who smoked heavily in cars, she had to climb down in the bottom of the car to put her head underneath the seat,” Takubo said. “All of us have been cleaning or doing things along the way and you got a big whiff of chlorine bleach or something that took your breath, that’s what it’s like.”
“We can go run outside and into another room and catch our air, these kids can’t.”
Senator Mike Azinger (R-Wood) opposed the bill but said he understood the good intentions.
“The arguments for the bill are essentially emotional arguments, my argument against the bill would be this is a cut at the fundamental rights of parents,” Azinger said. “Parents making the decision over their children, their vehicle, and this is the state going where it has no business going.”
SB 378 passed on a 25-8 bipartisan vote. It will now go to the House of Delegates for consideration.