Senator Wants to Ban Smoking in Cars with Children

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It's no secret that exposure to secondhand smoke is unhealthy. But family nurse practitioners like Carolyn Wagner say it has unique effects on young children.

"That four year old is still developing lung structure and lung tissue," said Wagner. "And what can occur when they're exposed to that type of second hand smoke is a process called remodeling, where the structure doesn't develop normally. It actually starts to develop in an abnormal way, which can affect the lung function for the rest of their lives."

That's why Illinois lawmaker, Ira Silverstein, is proposing a ban on smoking in cars where a minor is present. Like many, Wagner supports the legislation.

"Their airways are so very tiny, that anytime they get any type of irritation or infection in their lungs, it causes a lot of swelling so it put's them at a higher risk for a more serious lung problem," Wagner explained.

But police would not be able stop drivers for this offense alone. They can only issue a ticket after stopping a driver for some other punishable violation. Macon County Sheriff, Tom Schneider, says if encountered with this offense.. his team is instructed to teach rather than ticket.

"Some times there's legislation that comes through where we think we're infringing on people's rights," said Schneider. "This is one where you want to try to basically educate the person in reference to what the law is and the purpose of the law, more so than take enforcement action."

If the proposal becomes law.. punishment for the violation will be a fine up to $100.

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