MONTGOMERY — A bill banning smoking and vaping in a vehicle with a child under 14 passed the Alabama House on Tuesday.
House Bill 3 (HB3), sponsored by State Rep. Rolanda Hollis (D-Birmingham), had broad support in the House. An identical bill passed the House last year but failed to clear the Senate due to lack of time.
Susceptible to a $100 fine, the bill would prohibit smoking or vaping in a motor vehicle when a child under 14 is present.
"It's a bill that's going to help our kids from being exposed to secondhand smoke associated with repository infections, middle ear disease, delayed lung disease and severe asthma," Hollis said.
According to Hollis, the bill is the culmination of a seven-year effort to address the issue.
State Rep. Matt Simpson (R-Daphne) spoke in favor of the bill, saying "fighting vaping" is a concern for him and the legislature.
Simpson asked Hollis to clarify that the law would still apply regardless if a window is up or down, if the vehicle is stopped, if the vehicle's door is open, or where the child is in the vehicle.
"Fighting vaping has been an issue for this body for quite some time, and we really have a lot more we need to do to fight vaping," Simpson said.
He continued, "A lot of the situation becomes that it's not just what you can buy from the store, and you don't know what's in the vape. You don't know if there's illegal drugs in the vape, you don't know if it's fentanyl, if it's marijuana, you don't know what's going through there."
Simpson took issue with the bill for not including marijuana. Hollis said that she supports the legalization of marijuana and would include it in HB3 were it legal. However, since marijuana is currently illegal, adding it would be superfluous, she said.
Other lawmakers argued the bill could be misinterpreted by law enforcement and could even be used to racially profile.
"There are so many issues with folks being stopped; some with probable cause, but a lot of times, they're stopped with non-probable cause," Said State Rep Juandalynn Givan (D-Birmingham).
The bill passed with a vote of 84-15, with two abstentions.
No votes were State Reps. Chip Brown (R-Mobile), Mac Butler (R-Rainbow City), David Cole (R-Madison), Bob Fincher (R-Woodland), Ben Harrison (R-Elkmont), Jamie Kiel (R-Russelville), Arnold Mooney (R-Indian Springs), Ed Oliver (R-Dadeville), Kenneth Paschal (R-Pelham), Van Smith (R-Billingsley), Shane Stringer (R-Citronelle), Kerry Underwood (R-Tuscumbia), Tim Wadsworth (R-Arley), Ritchie Whorton (R- Owens Cross Roads) and Ernie Yarbrough (R-Trinity).
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