Smoking with kids in the car — not a no-brainer?
It's interesting to see the heated debate happening around Rob Ferguson's story about the ban on smoking in cars when children are present.
Setting aside for the moment whether or not it's realistic to police smoking in cars, I wouldn't have thought the ban would illicit such concern — not just for civil liberties, I get that — but that this is further proof children are taking over the world? Really?
Ya, sure, we're clogging the aisles at Shoppers' Drug Mart with our giant strollers, and our snot-nosed children are climbing the walls at Starbucks when you're trying to enjoy your no-foam. But I don't think that the government intervening to encourage people not to blow second-hand cigarette smoke into the faces of children when they're in an enclosed space no bigger than six cubic metres is really terribly good evidence that the short people are taking over.
It would be nice to think that parents know better than to smoke in their cars with kids, but sadly, not all people do. Addiction sucks. It makes people do dumb things. Even people who are otherwise working hard to provide for and care for their children.
Commenter Larry Perlman makes the point that these type of bans are symbolic. Making them is not about how realistic the bans will be to enforce. It's about subtly shaping what is considered socially acceptable. It was once perfectly legal to ride in a car without a seatbelt as well. Hell, I remember fighting with my brother over who got to stand "on the hump" for a better view over the front bench seat (all the better for rocketing oneself through the front windshield should a collision occur).
For the record, we did have car seats for some parts of our childhood — I can actually remember being embarrassed by the "babyishness" of mine, so my parents must have been generally fairly cautious for the time. The point is that back then most people let their kids be without a car seat or seatbelt at least some of the time, partly because it wasn't illegal. The ban on smoking with children in the car will likely have at least some of that same effect.