After a spirited brouhaha of a debate, the Maryland Senate passed a bill Wednesday that would make it illegal for a driver or passenger to smoke in a vehicle containing a child under age eight, according to a story by Michael Dresser in The Baltimore Sun. Senators voted 27 to 19 to send the bill to the House of Delegates, but not before arguing over the proven ills of secondhand smoke versus the rights of adults to be free of government meddling while riding (and lighting up stinkies) in their vehicles. If such a law comes to, well, pass, police officers will have the right to pull over drivers who are puffing away whilst toting tots — smokers who should have known better sworn to pay a $50 fine. Opponents argued in session that the bill’s passage represents a slippery slope toward an absurd Big-Brother-ish level of government control.
“Cheeseburgers are next,” warned Senate Minority Leader E. J. Pipkin, an Upper Shore Republican, according to Dresser’s brief story. “The cheeseburger police will be here and they’re going to be saying that some child shouldn’t be going to McDonald’s after school.”
I say give me a big fat break, E.J. Pipkin — I offer a high-five to the 27 practical Senate cats who’ve pushed the smoke-free-auto bill forward. Studies have shown that kids are subject to unsafe levels of toxins inside the limited space of a cigarette-smoky vehicle, whether the windows are up or down.
If parents are not responsible enough to protect their offspring from such obvious risk, they ought to be parented themselves. While we’re at it, cheeseburgers from McDonald’s ought to be better policed by the FDA as fast as secondhand smoke, in my personal view. They’re loaded with fat and sodium; the bun is processed crud. And the cattle these kids call patties don’t live very satisfying lives before they become tough burger meat. Let’s at least put a warning sticker on the Happy Meal, Pipkin. And, yeah, a ticket in the hand of any mom or dad who can’t wait to suck another cancer stick in baby’s presence. Fine ’em even more, that’s what I’d do! Readers?