(INDIANAPOLIS) -- Smoking in passenger vehicles with children under age 13 would be against state law under legislation endorsed by an Indiana House Committee on Tuesday.
The House Judiciary Committee approved the bill 8-1 and sent it to the full, Democrat-controlled House, where its author, Democratic Rep. Charlie Brown of Gary, predicted it would pass. He said he was not sure how it would fare in the Republican-ruled Senate.
Under the bill, police could not pull over a motorist solely because someone was smoking with children in the car. The initial stop would have to be based on a suspected primary offense such as speeding.
The offense would be an infraction carrying a $25 fine for the first offense and $100 for any subsequent violations.
Brown said he understood that some people would view the legislation as government intrusion. But he said studies have proven that secondhand smoke was harmful to adults, and its effects could be worse in children whose lungs and other organs are less developed.
"We need to protect children who have no choice but to ride in cars," he said. "It doesn't matter whether windows are opened or closed, it's still a negative impact. It's best to look at prevention on the front side."
The bill also would make it illegal to smoke in mass transportation terminals such as airports or bus stations, or within 100 feet of their entrances.
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)