Editorial: State goes too far on smoking bill

Published 8:53 am Thursday, February 5, 2009

When opponents of smoking pushed for a statewide ban on lighting up in bars and restaurants, we backed their cause because of the effect secondhand smoke can have on employees and patrons of consenting age who choose not to afflict their bodies with carcinogens. But fresh off that victory, the opponents of smoking have picked a new fight that goes too far.

On Thursday, the Minnesota House took up legislation that would ban smoking in vehicles when children are riding along. The bill would make smoking while driving with children a moving violation, with fines starting at just more than $100. It was introduced by Rep. Nora Slawik, a Maplewood Democrat.

This is unnecessary legislation.

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At what point are we going to expect parents to be parents without the government’s help? All of us would surely love to see a society in which all parents always do everything that is in the best interest of their children. But knowing that such a thing is never going to happen, there should be limits on the reach of government. This is one of them.

If the government is allowed to reach into our personal vehicles where some — dangerously, in our opinion — choose to smoke with their children sitting in the back seat, the next leap would be a ban in private homes. That’s not a place for the government to be in such matters.

A government that overreaches its authority becomes one that serves as a nanny to the electorate. When that happens, people never step up to take the responsibility they need to take for their own actions.

In other words, the government can’t and shouldn’t try to stop us from doing all the stupid things that, left to our own devices, some are prone to do.

— Faribault Daily News, Feb. 2