Ontario bans smoking in cars with children present

by Walter Olson on February 3, 2009

Because the government, unlike your parents, has your best interests at heart.

P.S. And now the North Dakota Senate.

{ 18 comments }

1 Ron Miller 02.03.09 at 11:06 am

Most parents do have their kids best interests at heart. For those that don’t who selfishly chose their own interests, this is a good law for them. Same goes for child support. Most divorced parents wil do the right thing without a law. Yet I’m still real glad we have one.

2 krs 02.03.09 at 11:45 am

What’s wrong with this?

3 Charley Gee 02.03.09 at 11:57 am

Isn’t a reasonable inference that if a parent is smoking in a car with a child then yes, the government does have the child’s best interests at heart? Obviously the parent doesn’t.

4 Bob Lipton 02.03.09 at 1:26 pm

Get out and run alongside for a while, kid, I’m going to light a stogie.

Bob

5 gitarcarver 02.03.09 at 2:06 pm

What’s wrong with this?

What’s right with it?

What is right with the government substituting their opinions and their agenda down the throats of parents? Whose responsible for the raising of children? The parents? Or the government?

This once again falls under the “its for the kids” mantra. We just saw it in full glory with the CPSIA law.

At what point in time do people realize that the more decisions you allow the government to make for you (or force upon you) the less capable of decision making you are?

6 panthan 02.03.09 at 2:08 pm

I’d have to have more time available than I actually do to crunch the numbers, but I would guess that the actual risk of injury or death to the child due to vehicle accident are many, many times higher than are the risks due to the smoking. See Setting the Record Straight, which gives an idea of how minimal these risks are. This is the EPA’s own hyperinflated justification for their results, so I think we can take them as an upper limit on any actual identifiable risk.

So, I propose that we make it illegal for parents to allow their children into their automobiles at all, smoking or not.

7 Scott M 02.03.09 at 3:21 pm

Good observation, panthan. Unfortunately, logic has no place in the world.

What’s next, taking children away from parents who get caught speeding with them in the car? After all, speeding is risky behavior. Maybe all parents should be required to have a speed governor installed.

Loud music can hurt a young child’s ears. Shouldn’t we require that car stereos can only be turned up to a safe decibel level to protect them.

Soon there are going to be so many laws to protect the children, that parent’s won’t even try to parent anymore. They’ll look at the long list of laws and figure if a given activity isn’t illegal it must be OK.

8 Ron Miller 02.03.09 at 4:14 pm

Kids getting in cars is for the purpose of a benefit to the child in a large number of cases. The trip is either good for the child or necessary to care for the child (getting a baby sitter is not always practical). But smoking while you child is in the car? It is just plain selfishly putting the child at risk with no upside. So yeah, if parents won’t do the right thing by their kids, the government should step in and impose this upon them.

The government imposes its will on how to raise children over the parents choices all of the time in cases where reasonable people do not debate what is best for the child. No expert out there is saying, “Nah, you know, this is a matter of judgment, maybe the smoke is okay.” There is your test for those of you who don’t understand that life is lived on the slippery slope. We can have police with a Gestapo; we can have social security without socalism.

9 gitarcarver 02.03.09 at 7:11 pm

No expert out there is saying, “Nah, you know, this is a matter of judgment, maybe the smoke is okay.”

But there are experts out there saying that there is no link between second hand smoke and an increase in health issues.

You then have the “battle of the experts” where the actual studies and scientific methods of data collection are thrust against each other in mortal combat.

It is easy to say that “the science is settled” and try to make it sound as if you are protecting kids. When you have groups whose funding is based on issues such as second hand smoke (both pro and con) shouldn’t the final decision be left up to the parents?

Do we really trust the government with paid lobbyists tickling their ears with the decisions on how to raise children?

There is your test for those of you who don’t understand that life is lived on the slippery slope.

So when there is a disagreement in the science, the government should stay out of the way, right?

10 Bob Lipton 02.03.09 at 7:15 pm

You write “science” with all the attitude of someone citing God’s Will.

Science’s Will be done.

Bob

11 Geekwad 02.04.09 at 8:57 am

“But there are experts out there saying that there is no link between second hand smoke and an increase in health issues.” Link please.

This discussion sounds boringly alike the ones we had around mandatory seat belts.

12 gitarcarver 02.04.09 at 10:52 am

Link please
http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/326/7398/1057

http://www.heartland.org/custom/semod_policybot/pdf/23613.pdf

And as you see, we are already into the “battle of experts.”

When the government tells you what you have to do to “protect the children,” you begin to lose the ability to reason what is best. Two cycling stories illustrate the point:

Years ago governments started to mandate that kids wear bicycle helmets when riding. It seemed like a great idea since the “science” proved that wearing a helmet would save lives. So why for the next five years or so did injuries and deaths from cycling go up? The answer is easy. Parents were buying helmets to comply with the law, but kids weren’t wearing them correctly (either too loose or not strapped) to make a difference. Armed with the false assumption that they were “better protected,” the kids started doing more dangerous things and more kids were hurt. Parents and kids didn’t care about the actual safety of the helmets, they only cared that the government mandated that helmets be worn or they would be fined. Parents never taught and kids never learned the correct way to wear a helmet and the benefits of wearing a helmet because all that mattered was compliance with the law.

The second story is personal. I rode my bike into the housing area of a military base. I was stopped by the police and told that I needed to wear a helmet. I told them that I was an adult, and the county laws for helmets did not apply to adults. The police told me that the housing section was still federal property and therefore federal law applied.

I asked politely to see the law as I was more than willing to comply with the law as long as I knew what it was. I read the law from the book the policeman showed me and came home to do some research.

The law said that a helmet must conform to a standard (ANSI) that was at least 10 years old. The problem was that you couldn’t get those helmets anymore. Because of technology advances, the older ANSI standards had been passed (twice) by newer standards. One of the older standards was percentage of air vents and dimensions of air vents. The old ANSI standard required the air vents not be above a certain dimension and percentage of the helmet area. The newer ANSI standards allowed for larger air vents and more air vents as a total of the helmet area. In short, you could not find or purchase a helmet that complied with the law.

So once again, I went back to the local base and spoke to the SP’s there. I explained my problem and asked how I should comply with a law that was impossible to comply with.

Their response was “we just care that you have a helmet on.”

The law had taken away their reasoning. They didn’t really care about the safety issues. “It is all about protecting kids” had given away to “just do what the law says.”

I used to conduct bicycle safety classes for kids. We never told them that by law, they had to wear a melmet. We always picked the smallest kid in the class, and asked them to drop a cantaloupe or other melon from the same height as their head. The melon would explode on the ground. We then would ask them to drop a melon with a helmet on, but not strapped or secured properly. The melon would explode. We then had the kid drop a melon with a helmet properly secured on the melon. The melon wouldn’t break. The kids reasoned that wearing a helmet properly was a good thing. They rode away wearing helmets not because some law said they needed to, but because we allowed them to make the decision of whether they wanted to be crushed melons or not.

We don’t teach, learn or reason when we give the government the power to decide what we do in life. When elected officials get into power, they automatically assume that they know what is best for the rest of us. They aren’t interested in showing us why, only forcing their beliefs down the throats of a thinking human being.

13 Jay 02.04.09 at 12:14 pm

Parents do lots more unhealthy things “to” their kids in the car than smoking. They allow them to eat fast food and drink soft drinks. I’ve even allowed my kids to eat junk food in my vehicle. I’ve driven my kids short distances when it was probably better for them to walk.

My parents smoked all the time when I was a kid in the car. So did my wife’s. She runs marathons and I run 10ks.

Who is raising our kids? Us or the government. This is simply a waste of law enforcement’s time.

14 Ron Miller 02.04.09 at 1:37 pm

The science is clear. I like science. But I don’t think reasonable minds differ on this point: there is a risk that second hand ssmoke harms children. There is NO RISK in not smoking in the same car as children. This seems like such a no brainer to me.

How about car seats? I’m sure we can find a study somewhere out there that they are not necessary. How about beating kids badly -very badly – when they are bad? I’m sure we can find a study supporting that too. Parents do whatever you want to your kids. In fact, you can sell them. (No studies here but you may find a few in other areas of the world.) They are your property. We don’t want govt to interfere.

15 gitarcarver 02.04.09 at 2:51 pm

But I don’t think reasonable minds differ on this point: there is a risk that second hand ssmoke harms children.

“Reasonable” as being defined as “those you agree with?” I am not trying to flame here. I am just saying that the science is not settled. The second problem is that if “reasonable minds” can agree, then why does the government have to step in? Is it your contention that all parents are “unreasonable?”

There is NO RISK in not smoking in the same car as children.

Of course there is risk. The car can be in an accident and the child killed. That’s a risk, isn’t it? Let’s ban children from cars altogther. One hundred percent of children killed in car accidents were in cars, so according to governmental logic, the risk is riding in the car. Let’s make it so that kids cannot be transported in cars. Think of all the gas and energy we would save too! No more SUV’s or mini-vans. Just another reason to outlaw kids in cars.

Why is it that there is a feeling that we need or must try to regulate “risk” out of life? It can’t be done yet people keep trying to do it.

How about car seats? I’m sure we can find a study somewhere out there that they are not necessary.

How about it? I am sure that you remember when the first child seats came out and were legislated to be mandatory, there were more injuries to children for a variety of reasons such as the seats were deficient, the direction of the seats were wrong, and don’t forget how wonderful air bags exploding and harming kids were. All legislated by the government and all ending up causing more injuries.

Some studies show that being on the computer is harmful to people in general and kids specifically. Do you want the government to step in and regulate that? Or how about activities at school? Studies show that 100% of the kids injured playing “tag” at recess would have been prevented by outlawing the game. So let’s outlaw that.

At what point in time do we say that when government controls our decisions, we lose the abilty to reason to make those decisions? That’s part of the issue here. I disagree that government regulation can control everything and that government control of personnal lives is beneficial in all cases.

I don’t want the government thinking for me. That is not their raison d’etre.

If the reason to ban something is so good and so compelling, then convince me. I am a reasonable person. But what happens is that the government doesn’t care about you or I being reasonable. We just saw that with the CPSIA mess. The government tried to fix a problem that wasn’t there to begin with and in doing so, told “reasonable people” that they were suddenly going to be breaking the law for making “reasonable products.”

“Its for the kids” is the last refuge of an argument what cannot stand on its own, yet that is the battle cry from those wanting more legislation.

16 Dirk D 02.04.09 at 5:03 pm

http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/326/7398/1057

http://www.heartland.org/custom/semod_policybot/pdf/23613.pdf

I’m not in favor of these laws but neither of these links have anything to do with risks posed to children. Much of the work done in kids doesn’t rely on retrospective epidemiological studies nor do they use mortality as the sole measure of risk.

17 Richard Nieporent 02.04.09 at 5:38 pm

Excellent points Gitarcarver. I couldn’t agree with you more.

The science is clear. I like science. But I don’t think reasonable minds differ on this point: there is a risk that second hand ssmoke harms children.

Ron, you make like science but you don’t understand science or statistics. I would suggest that you read the book Innumeracy by John Paulos before you try to protect us from nonexistent problems.

18 Ron Wood 02.11.09 at 7:28 pm

I guess it needs to be done for the children.

I’m surprised that the new law includes children that are passengers on motorcycles very likely resulting in broken bodies, mashed brains, but handsome lungs?

We also need to look at the risk incurred when children are allowed to meander about on foot in our neighborhoods, without the safety provided by a helmet.
Danger is everywhere-the upcoming onslaught of smoking drivers careening through our streets attempting to elude Johnny Law.
The trees and tree limbs that are falling all the time, thunkin’ on the dear unprotected heads of our loved ones.

Then let’s get some protection for the children in our homes.
I understand that vehicles may be small and enclosed heightening the exposure risk (excepting motorcycles, convertibles, and cars rendered non-enclosed by open windows) but much more time is spent in the home conceivably resulting in a greater risk from exposure from second hand smoke.

It needs to happen. Investigation and enforcement of the ban protecting children at home could be placed in the very capable hands of our Homeland Security friends…We’ll enjoy the irony of shipping perpetrators off to spend a couple of years in one of our modern smoke free prisons.

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