Heads-up visitors who plan on driving in Hawaii! It may soon be against the law in the Aloha State to smoke in a car with a child. And that goes for e-cigarettes, too.

According to the Honolulu Star Advertiser, the state House Transportation Committee unanimously approved a bill that would prohibit smoking in a motor vehicle when a minor is present. The legislation would also impose a fine of $100 to anyone who smokes or uses an electronic cigarette while in a vehicle with someone under the age of 18, even if the windows are rolled down.

If the measure is passed, Hawaii would become the eighth state to prohibit smoking when children are in a vehicle. A similar restriction was adopted in Hawaii County in 2010, the paper reports.

The Honolulu Star Advertiser reports that supporters said the measure will help protect the state’s youth from the effects of secondhand smoke, particularly in a time when their bodies are still developing.

a sign that represents no smoking and no vaping

Photo: Mike Mozart

The bill would make it illegal to smoke or vape in a car if a minor is also riding in the car. Proponents of the ban say it would keep children safe from second-hand smoke.

According to the paper, “Children breathe more rapidly than adults, and therefore inhale more harmful chemicals per pound of their weight than do adults in the same amount of time,” Dr. Virginia Pressler, director of the state Department of Health, said in written testimony.

Pressler added that exposure to smoke in a confined space is more harmful than in an open area.

“Studies demonstrate that the concentration of toxins in a smoke-filled car is 23 times greater than that of a smoky bar,” she told the Honolulu Star Bulletin.

Trish La Chica, policy and advocacy director of the Hawaii Public Health Institute, added that smoke-free cars are similar to current laws on public safety such as seat belts, child car seats and prohibiting the use of cellphones while driving.

a woman in a car looking at her cell phone

Photo: freestockphotos.biz

Although a smoking ban while driving minors may sound extreme, there are already many laws on the books regulating driving, such as no cell phone use.

But, not everyone is excited about banning smoking in cars. The paper reports that opponents of the bill argue that vehicles are not a public place and that the government shouldn’t control how a family is raised.

“A parent that loves their child would make that decision not to (smoke) in the environment where the child would be affected by it. I think only a vicious parent would do otherwise,” said Michael Zehner, co-chairman of the Hawaii Smokers Alliance, told the Honolulu Star Bulletin. “When the government steps in and tries to control how a person raises their children and raises their family more and more, I think that’s a real dangerous step that we’re taking.”

For visitors who plan on driving in Hawaii and navigating to activities during their stay, it will be extra-important to keep track of the bill’s progress. You don’t want to pay a fine for smoking in your car, especially if you weren’t aware that it was illegal!

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