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Jersey Town Bans Smoking in Cars with Kids

Michael Moretti
Posted: April 26, 2007

Those puffing with minors in the car will have to toss their smokes out the window when driving through the coastal community of Keyport, New Jersey.

On Monday, the Borough Council passed an ordinance that would slap a $75 fine on anyone caught smoking in a car where anyone 17 years or younger is present. Keyport is the first town in the state to ratify such a law. The new measure is considered a secondary offense meaning police could issue a summons only if an offender is first caught breaking another law such as running a red light or speeding.

"We're not trying to use the power of the motor vehicle system to punish people into behaving the way we want them to," said Mayor Robert Bergen in an Associated Press report. "This ordinance is really intended to be a positive public policy statement about the need to take care of our kids."

"A car is an extension of your personal property," Audrey Silk, the founder of a New York smokers' rights group, which is active in New Jersey as well, said in the same AP report. "For the government to regulate what you can do in your own private property, everybody should be afraid of that."

Similar legislation has already been approved in Louisiana, Arkansas and Maine municipalities, and is being considering on a statewide level in California.

New Jersey has steadily become more stringent in regards to indoor smoking laws. When a statewide ban was first passed in January 2006, it exempted the gambling floors of Atlantic City casinos. On April 15, 2007, the floors relegated lighting up to walled-off sections representing 25 percent of the floor, with the rest being smoke-free.

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