State Sen. Toby Stavisky, D-Forest Hills, and state Assemblyman David Weprin, D-Little Neck, are calling for the state to prohibit smoking in vehicles in which minors are present and fine violators up to $100.
Under the bill, smoking in passenger cars, vans or trucks would be illegal when youths, ages 14 and below, are present.
“It is of upmost importance to protect our children, whose bodies are still developing and who often do not have a voice of their own,” Weprin said.
The legislation would extend the Clean Indoor Act, which was enacted to prevent smoking in city restaurants. In November, smoking was also .
“It will help children breathe clean air while they are riding in automobiles,” Stavisky said. “There is no constitutional right to smoke. It is not a protected activity.”
Health advocates who support the legislation said it would help to prevent children from being exposed to secondhand smoke as well as long-term diseases, such as asthma and cancer.
“Because their lungs are so much smaller, secondhand smoke is even more dangerous to children,” said Jeff Seyler, chief executive officer of the American Lung Association in New York.
Jerry Iannece, chairman of Community Board 11, said he thought the bill was a good idea.
“If you’re smoking by yourself, it’s a different story,” he said. “But kids shouldn’t be subjected to smoke in a confined area. Kids that are 14 and under don’t always have the choice to make whether they want to be in a smoke free environment.”