Local Reaction: Smoking ban if kids are in the car

KNOXVILLE (WVLT) -- It's a smokin' debate. A group of Tennessee doctors don't want parents lighting up cigarettes while kids are in the car.

Local doctors believe a car smoking ban is a good idea, and even some smokers agree. Among them is Alina Young, who was buying cigarettes at the Smokin’ Joes drive through on Papermill Drive on Monday evening.

“It can cause breathing problems, asthma, and allergies,” said Young, who has a young son. “If you want to smoke, you should do it outside and not around your kids."

She's not the only smoker who feels that way. Volunteer TV News caught up with another just a few moments later.

"The young people don't need to be around this secondhand smoke," agreed Angela Runnels.

The Tennessee Medical Association wants a $25.00 fine for drivers smoking with children under the age of nine in the car.

Dr. Stephen Miller, an oncologist at the University of Tennessee Medical Center supports the idea. He said 60 percent of his heart and lung patients have been exposed to smoke of some kind.

“It's a different argument whether it should be legislated or not, but all of us realize we should never force anyone else to be exposed to our cigarette smoking habit,” said Dr. Miller, who pointed out that secondhand smoke is responsible for 40,000 heart deaths each year and 3,000 lung deaths in the United States alone.

"Organizations may be hesitant to support such a bill because it may limit individual rights,” said Doris Spain, executive director of the Tennessee Public Heath Association.

That is an opinion held by many smokers.

Patrick Lane says, "The American people have suffered enough by having their freedoms taken away,” said Patrick Lane, a smoker.

Either way, the idea won't become a law anytime soon because the Tennessee Medical Association hasn't found any supporters for the bill.

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