Saw it again this morning after picking up my morning McCafe (that's a simple cup of the fine McDonald's coffee — two cream, no sugar) — an adult driving with a child in the car, the window cracked about an inch and holding a cigarette by the open window. I see this quite a bit on the roads while people watching in traffic and oddly enough, it is usually a woman driver. Aside from my simple, unscientific 'gender' observation, I'm struck by the sheer stupidity of these parents.
I'm sure you can already guess my stance on smoking in general, if not, here it is: it's stupid. I think it's a vice for weak people and with what we know today about the dangers of inhaling smoke, it's downright moronic to continue to do so. But for an adult to smoke in a closed-in space such as the confines of a vehicle — a parent with his or her child present, no less — well that borders on criminal. As bad as certain habits are (whether we're talking about smoking, gambling, or picking one's nose!), society is pretty tolerant when the habit is difficult to break and the only one affected is the person with the habit. But what is mom thinking when she takes junior to school and has a couple of smokes along the way?
Yes, junior gets to school smelling like he was used to wipe out the bottom of an ashtray, and other than that slight wheezing he's picked up recently — he'll be just fine. But somewhere down the road that kid will pick up an awful disease, he'll have to bury mom before her years and he'll likely be a smoker himself thanks to the wonderful example set by his folks.
Ontario, Canada got it right earlier this year when they created the Smoke-Free Ontario Act which went into effect in January. There is a section that bans smoking in cars when there is a child less than 16 years of age in the car:
9.2(1) No person shall smoke tobacco or have lighted tobacco in a motor vehicle while another person who is less than 16 years old is present in the vehicle.
Pretty simple language. As we trudge through reforming our health care system, we should make sure this sort of thinking is prevalent at a national level so that we don't harm another generation of youth. (Preachy? Sure. But I turned 50 yesterday and I have 4 kids of my own and I get that way sometime. Deal with it.)
I don't have the balls to pull up next to someone in stopped traffic and tell them they shouldn't smoke in a car with their kids present — but if I had a badge and the law on my side …..