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Proposal To Ban Smoking While Driving Children Raises Privacy Questions

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Hannah Meisel/WUIS
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  State lawmakers are considering legislation to prevent smoking in cars with children. Though the measure is aimed at protecting passengers' health, the proposal is raising questions about personal privacy.

The measure would make it illegal to smoke in a car with a minor, but a police officer couldn't pull over drivers just for lighting up.

Even so, Kathy Drea, of the American Lung Association, says putting a law on the books sends a message to smokers.

Drea compares the proposal to other laws pertaining to vehicles.

"We can't carry open alcohol in a car, we can't use cell phones in a car, we have to have car seats for a our babies, we have to wear seatbelts," she said.

But in a Senate committee, Republican Dave Syverson of Rockford pushed back.

"What's the difference between not telling them in their own vehicle versus in their own home?" Syverson asked Drea.

"Well, a vehicle is such a confined, small space compared to home and the levels are much higher," Drea replied.

Drea says there are similar laws in 14 other states.

Hannah covers state government and politics for NPR Illinois and Illinois Public Radio. She's been dedicated to the statehouse beat since interning at NPR Illinois in 2014, with subsequent stops at outlets including WILL-AM/FM, Law360, The Daily Line and a temporary stint at political blog Capitol Fax before returning to the station in 2020.
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