In recent years, smokers have found it increasingly
difficult to find a place to enjoy their habit – permissibly.
An effort in the New Jersey Legislature would take away yet
another spot to light up.
A newly introduced bill would allow law enforcement to rip a
driver’s smokes right out of their mouth and force them to pay up to $250 for
the pleasure. Drivers would first need to be pulled over for another offense,
such as speeding or running a red light.
Sponsored by Democratic Assembly members John McKeon of
South Orange and Loretta Weinberg of Teaneck, the bill would prohibit drivers
from smoking cigars, pipes or cigarettes.
Regarded by some as a pipe dream, supporters say the ban is
more about improving highway safety than protecting health because smoking is a
distraction for drivers, much like cell phones.
New Jersey already is one of only three states that restrict
drivers from using hand-held cell phones.
understandably none to pleased about this effort. They complain the proposal is
only a step away from banning smoking in the home.
The New Jersey State
Association of Chiefs of Police isn’t too crazy about the idea either.
Mitchell Sklar, the
group’s executive director, said police departments may balk at enforcing such
“In general, we’d
rather not try to incrementally look at every single behavior and make those a
violation,” he told The Associated Press.
A4306 is in the
Assembly Transportation Committee.