SANTA FE (KRQE) – It’s already banned in public places, but two state lawmakers want to do away with smoking in a private place: Your car. They say if you are around kids, you shouldn’t be allowed to light up. Along with that, they are proposing a hefty fine. Some of their peers in Santa Fe think it goes too far.
“The issue of second hand smoke is really the focus,” Santa Fe Senator Peter Smith said.
“As a legislator, we have this unique opportunity to change the law on things that need to be changed,” Rep. Jeff Steinborn of Las Cruces said.
Lighting up in the car with minors on board could soon get you into trouble. That is if Sen. Smith and Rep. Steinborn, two Democrats, have their way.
“Putting children in cars with cigarette smoke, cigar smoke, whatever it is, I think it needs to stop,” Sen. Wirth said.
Their bill would make smoking in a car with anyone younger than 18 punishable by a $300 fine for a first offense and $500 for a second bust.
“It’s important that if someone does this, that they get a painful enough fine that they never want to do it again,” Rep. Steinborn said.
He says it’s modeled after a similar Oregon law. The bill also includes e-cigarettes in the language. But not everyone at the roundhouse thinks it’s a good idea.
“My mother died having been a heavy smoker,” said Albuquerque Republican Rep. Jimmie Hall. “She suffered from COPD, so I’m basically against smoking. But enforcement would be, I think, very difficult.”
Republicans compared it to a law passed last year.
“We went from texting and driving to now no smoking while driving,” Rio Rancho Sen. Craig Brandt said. “I think that’s taking it one step further than I’m willing to go.”
The bill is getting mixed reaction from people as well.
“To say what you can and can’t do in your own private vehicle which you pay for, pay taxes on, it makes no sense,” John Kowalczyk said.
“I’m anti-smoking and I think people shouldn’t smoke around children because it’s bad for their health,” Mary Severine said. “But I think that’s a lot of micromanagement that we don’t need to endure.”
KRQE News 13 called state police to see if they think enforcing a law like this would be tough but haven’t heard back.
In New Mexico, if you are smoking in a place where it’s not permitted, the fine is just $100 .Lawmakers say this is the first time a bill like this has been introduced in New Mexico. Seven states have a similar law.