SC bill would bar smoking when a kid is in the car

Horry County resident Kelly Moore lets the children drive the car. Not the family minivan, but the grocery basket they maneuver through the store.

"Today, they got treats for being so good," says Moore. As the kids proudly show off their bottles of rainbow sprinkles, she unbuckles them out of the grocery cart car and into their car seats in the minivan.

She's says safety has always been an issue in her family even when she was younger. "My mother used to smoke when I was a child, but she never smoked in front of us, in the house or in the car."

South Carolina lawmakers want to have other smokers practice like Moore's mother.

In a House subcommittee meeting Wednesday, legislators will debate if they should make it illegal for drivers or passengers to smoke with a child in the car.

The bill would be enforced when children are in a car seat or booster seat. The current state law requires children up to six years old and up to 80 pounds to be in a safety or booster seat. Those smoking in a car with a child above the required age or weight would not be ticketed.

Someone caught smoking in the car could be fined $25.

Darrell Wehrend is visiting the Grand Strand from Illinois with his family and says the bill would not infringe on anyone's rights.

"Smokers can still go outside if they want to smoke," Wenrend says. "But in a car, that's an enclosed environment. So why would you want to endanger the health of your children just because of your bad habit?"

Horry County resident Walter Hite says he occassionally lights up a cigarette, and still agrees with the bill. "Personally, I feel like the government is infringing on too many of our rights," he says. "But as far as with children in the car and you're smoking, that should be outlawed just for the sake of the children's health."

But there are some concerned the passage of this type of bill could lead to more intrusive laws.

"The fear is, once you grant the government the right to prevent people from smoking in their cars to protect their children," says Horry County resident Barry Dehaven, "there is a possibility then that the government says people with children can't smoke in their homes. Which to me that strikes me as vastly unconstitutional."

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The Associated Press contributed to this story.