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Bangor & Augusta, Maine

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Don Briggs
Don Briggs
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Maine Leads the Way in Protecting Children from Second Hand Smoke

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Over the years, Maine has been a leader in protecting the right of non-smokers to breath clean air in public spaces, but, until now, no one has dared try and tell smokers what they can and can’t do in their houses and cars. However, a new city ordinance has changed all this for Bangor drivers, who can now be pulled over and fined up to 50 dollars for smoking in the car in the presence of children.

Over the years, Maine has been a leader in protecting the right of non-smokers to breath clean air in public spaces, but, until now, no one has dared try and tell smokers what they can and can’t do in their houses and cars. However, a new city ordinance has changed all this for Bangor drivers, who can now be pulled over and fined up to 50 dollars for smoking in the car in the presence of children.
Mainers are known for being fierce defenders of personal freedom, but although some are grumbling about what they deem as just “one more right being taken away”, the New York Times reports that the legislation has received widespread report from both smokers and non-smokers.
One editorial published in the Portland Press Herald states that, “so long as cigarettes are legal, the government has no business saying how they should be used in the homes we own and in our own private vehicles.” However, most people seem to agree with James Tasse, whose editorial also appears in the Portland Press Herald. He writes:

“This discussion is not about smokers’ rights — it’s about the secondhand smoke. There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke. Kids in cars and homes where people are smoking are unavoidably exposed to secondhand smoke, and many are getting sick from it.”

Bangor is not alone in the ban on smoking in cars with children. Several cities in other states have enacted similar legislation, and it’s possible that the law will soon cover all of Maine. What this shows us is that Mainers and Americans are becoming more conscious of the fact that individual choices often have consequences for others.

Children are especially vulnerable to the decisions of adults, and we must protect them, not only from physical harm, but also from abuse that, even though it may be unintentional, can have long-term consequences for their health.