Students agree with Oregon smoking law


It is now illegal in Oregon to smoke a cigarette in a vehicle with children present. The law took effect Jan. 1 in order to protect children 18 and under from the detrimental side effects of inhaling excessive amounts of toxic secondhand smoke.

“I think it’s good,” senior Dalton Chandler said. “That’s disgusting, smoking with your kids. It could hurt their lungs, and they have no choice in the matter.”

Senior Chris Strawhacker feels similarly.

“It’s not about decreasing the number of smokers,” Strawhacker said. “You shouldn’t be able to smoke with kids; they don’t have any choice.”

The first state to ban smoking in a vehicle with children was Louisiana in 2006. Now that Oregon is following the change, other states may follow.

Also, Jan. 1 saw a new law take effect in Illinois that deems cigarette butts litter.

Nebraska’s last big smoking ban was the Nebraska Clean Indoor Air Act, a law that went into effect in January 2009 that banned all smoking in any workplace (including bars or restaurants).

Offenders of the Oregon ban could face up to $500 in fines, while offenders of the Illinois law could be forced to pay $1,500. There was much controversy surrounding the two laws; especially the latter, with many individuals calling it overkill.

“I agree that there should be a fine,” Strawhacker said. “But charging that much? It’d be much more reasonable to charge maybe $50.”

While there are individuals that believe the fine to be overkill, various organizations feel the law is a step in the right direction. According to KeepAmericaBeautiful’s 2009 litter study, 77 percent of interviewee agreed that cigarette filters are litter. Evidence in the same study indicates that 28 percent of smokers reported no ash receptacle in their vehicle, and 41 percent had no receptacle at their work.

KeepAmericaBeautiful noted that there was a noticeable relation between the number of ash receptacles available and the amount of cigarette filters left in the environment.

While there were no changes to Nebraska’s statewide smoking laws for this year, residents may yet see stricter smoking bans in the future.

“People will still smoke,” Chandler said. “But it’ll be good to see kids safe.”

Mike Sullivan