Smoking in a vehicle with someone under the age of 18 inside may soon come with a steep penalty.
It's part of proposed legislation to protect children from second-hand smoke.
"We're hoping people can really take another look at this, and realize how important it is," said Rep Noreen Kokoruda, a Republican from the 101st District.
Kokoruda said when a group of students from Daniel Hand High School in Madison asked her why an old bill that would have banned smoking inside a car while a child is inside didn't get anywhere, she said she had to get involved.
"And, we've been working on it ever since," she said.
Kokoruda said she joined forces with Democratic Rep. Henry Genga, who originally proposed the legislation.
Last year, a task force was created to debate this change. However, this legislation didn't make it out of the General Assembly.
"There were a couple of legislators, they were concerned about profiling," Kokoruda said. "They didn't feel comfortable giving police one more reason to pull someone over. We made it a second offense, so you can't just pull someone over who has a cigarette in their hand."
Several states and the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Nova Scotia, already have similar bans.
Kokoruda said she believes it's owed to young children to protect them from second-hand smoke and its associated health risks.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children exposed to second-hand smoke could have more frequent asthma attacks and ear infections as well as a greater risk for sudden infant death syndrome.
"Even though their parents like to smoke, do that outside the car, not when the kid is in the car," said Paschaline Nsiah-Asar of Hartford "I'm definitely against second-hand smoke."
While some people who spoke to Eyewitness News supported the proposal, others didn't.
"I don't think it's a good idea," said Wesley Primus of Waterbury. "I think it's people's private life and you shouldn't be told what to do."
Kokoruda added that the proposed legislation comes on the heels of the state spending the least amount, compared to other states, on smoking education and prevention programs.
She said she is committed to pushing the legislation forward.
Kokoruda said she's hoping for a public hearing to discuss the matter.
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