CT task force recommends ban smoking in vehicles with children i - WFSB 3 Connecticut

CT task force recommends ban smoking in vehicles with children inside

Posted: Updated:
HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -

A legislative task force recommended that lawmakers ban smoking inside vehicles with children inside. 

The group met for the last time on Monday afternoon before the legislature reconvenes next week. 

The legislative task force recommended banning smoking in cars with passenger, who is 18 or younger. First offense is a warning with the second offense $100 fine or option to take online education course, the task force recommended. 

Other recommendations were taxes on all tobacco products including e-cigs and to start phasing in more spending on education campaigns year-to-year. 

The legislative task force sent the recommended proposals to the public health committee.

State Rep. Noreen Kokoruda is at the helm of the task force. Kokoruda said she wanted recommendations on enforcement, more education on the dangers of second-hand smoke and how to fund smoking cessation programs. 

"We don't want to punish people with addiction, but we're also trying to keep children safe, so it's that balance," Kokoruda told Eyewitness News. 

"Half-a-billion dollars a year between our tobacco settlement money which is $120 million and also there's another $40 or $60 million we get [from] tobacco settlement and taxes on cigarettes. It's close to half-a-billion. We spend, this year in our budget, $1.2 million on stopping smoking in this state," Kokoruda added.

That's roughly 4 percent of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's recommendation of $32 million.

State Rep. Susan Johnson (D-Windham) said she has strongly opposed the proposal and said it would essentially penalize people for doing something that isn't illegal. She added that she's not convinced the legislation would make a significant difference in a child's health.

Kokoruda said she realizes the law would be difficult to enforce and can appreciate concerns about profiling.

"We don't want to punish people with addiction, but we're also trying to keep children safe, so it's that balance," she said.

Eyewitness News asked Connecticut residents what they thought of the proposals. 

"I just think that the role of the government is not to regulate our personal lives to that extreme extent. It's not going to work, there's probably no way to enforce it," said Daria Novak, of Madison.

"I think it's health issue because you have to look at the aspect when the kids get sick from smoking or they get asthma or they get upper respiratory infections, that costs the taxpayers a lot of money as far as healthcare," said Frank Catalano of Madison. 

Copyright 2016 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.