Bill Would Ban Smoking While Driving With Youngsters

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If the road to Hell is paved with good intentions, the southbound cars may have Connecticut plates — and their occupants may be wearing nicotine patches.

Well, that’s not an entirely fair generalization to make about motorists in the Constitution State. But if they’re parents who smoke, they may soon be able to thank the State Legislature for relieving them of the pesky task of having to exercise parental discretion for themselves.

Connecticut House Bill 5280 really does take all the headache out of a driver’s having to make the gut-wrenchingly tough decision not to hold “…a cigarette, cigar, pipe or similar device to, or in the immediate proximity of, his or her mouth while the vehicle is in motion or at rest” while children who are younger than 7 years old, weigh less than 60 pounds and are duly strapped into their child restraints are present in the car.

Admittedly, the bill doesn’t categorically target parents; it would apply equally to any adult vehicle occupant, be it a carjacker, the cab driver or sketchy Uncle Joe. And the bill’s only punitive provision is to issue violators a warning.

If it lacks teeth, then, what is it? Grandstanding? A red herring to preoccupy the media while the Connecticut House Committee on Transportation wades through ephemeral proposals? Well-intentioned proxy parenting?

The latter is most troublesome because it further advances the prevailing American culture of displaced responsibility, of law supplanting individual decision making, of policy encroaching on personal discretion.

Is any kind of smoking bad for kids?

Likely.

Do I have a child’s best interests at heart if I tootle down Interstate 91 with a pack of Camels on the burn and a pack of rug rats in the back?

Likely not.

Do I live in a Nation that endows me with a citizen’s measure of liberty — and a commensurate measure of responsibility — sufficient to make decisions like those on my own?

Well, do I?

Ben Bullard

Reconciling the concept of individual sovereignty with conscientious participation in the modern American political process is a continuing preoccupation for staff writer Ben Bullard. A former community newspaper writer, Bullard has closely observed the manner in which well-meaning small-town politicians and policy makers often accept, unthinkingly, their increasingly marginal role in shaping the quality of their own lives, as well as those of the people whom they serve. He argues that American public policy is plagued by inscrutable and corrupt motives on a national scale, a fundamental problem which individuals, families and communities must strive to solve. This, he argues, can be achieved only as Americans rediscover the principal role each citizen plays in enriching the welfare of our Republic.