- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Smoking in the same car as a young child will soon be a finable offense in Virginia if Gov. Terry McAuliffe signs a House bill into law before April 11.

House Bill 1348 proposes that individuals caught lighting up in a motor vehicle when a minor under age 8 is present will be fined $100.

The bill was introduced in January by Republican Del. Todd E. Pillion and has passed both the House and Senate as of earlier this month. Now Mr. McAuliffe has less than a month to act on the bill, and his signature would ensure new smoking restrictions go into effect on July 1.

Specifically, the bill forbids anyone in an automobile from smoking tobacco by pipe or by cigarette in the presence of a person younger than 8. Because smoking around children would be a secondary, noncriminal offense, however, suspected violators would have to be pulled over for a separate infraction before being given a citation by police.

Since children younger than 8 are required by state law to ride in car seats while on Virginia roads, Mr. Pillion said his rule could help authorities determine a child’s age during traffic stops.

Mr. Pillion, a pediatric dentist, told the Richmond Times-Dispatch last month that cigarette smoke is particularly bad for developing lungs, “and in a very tight, enclosed space in a car, it’s even worse.”

“This is not about big brother government, it’s about little brother in the back seat struggling to breathe,” he added to the Daily Press newspaper.

Fees collected from violators would go toward the state’s Literary Fund, which bankrolls various educational initiatives from Rosslyn to Roanoke.

Mr. McAuliffe has not yet publicly weighed in on the bill. The governor’s office could not be reached immediately for comment.

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