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The British Parliament recently passed a law making it illegal for adults to smoke with anyone under the age of 18 in the car. Many Americans responded positively to this, some petitioning their own representatives to push a similar bill. While the United States has no national law regarding this practice, a handful of states do. New York is one of these states.

In 2010, the New York Legislature passed a law stating that it is illegal to smoke in a vehicle with anyone under the age of 14. This means any form of tobacco (or anything else that can be smoked) that is lit with the obvious intent of smoking is committing a traffic infraction. If the cigar, cigarette, pipe or other smoking apparatus is not lit, it does not fall under this law. The penalty for this infraction is steeper than many speeding tickets and the like: a $100 fine. 

This law is well-justified. According to the Legislature, secondhand smoke causes more than 60,000 deaths a year. Of these, about 3,000 are due to lung cancer — and that is in non-smokers alone. The effects it can have on children are especially concerning.

The EPA estimates about 300,000 minors suffer upper respiratory infections as a result of inhaling secondhand smoke. Some cases are even more severe, putting about 15,000 children in the hospital. In addition, secondhand smoke is one of the leading causes of asthma. Even brief exposure can have major effects on a child’s developing respiratory and cardiovascular systems.

If you have been cited for smoking in a car with a minor or any other traffic violation, you do not have to simply pay the ticket. An experienced attorney may be able to review your case and give advice on how to handle it. 

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