Kitzhaber signs smoking ban in cars with kids into law

Kitzhaber signs smoking ban in cars with kids into law
(Wikimedia Commons photo © 2005 by Tomasz Sienicki)

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Oregon drivers caught smoking in cars with kids may face hefty fines under a new state law.

Gov. John Kitzhaber signed into law on Tuesday a bill that prohibits drivers from lighting up if a person under 18 is also in the car.

The bill was the subject of a fiery debate in the Legislature.

Supporters said secondhand smoke is a health hazard and children shouldn't be harmed by their parents' bad decision to smoke.

Critics said the state shouldn't regulate what drivers do in their own cars.

A police officer could enforce the ban only if the driver had been pulled over for a separate traffic violation. A maximum fine for the first offense would be $250.

The law also covers marijuana and regulated narcotics.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.