Many states in the US have banned smoking in the car when there is a minor present. I don’t have strong opinions one way or the other on the subject, but probably lean towards the law being more of a good idea than a bad one. India, on the other hand, has gone a step further and banned smoking in cars at all:
Declaring “New Delhi roads dangerous to human life,” the city’s High Court on Monday imposed a slew of new measures aimed at deterring habitually bad drivers, including the smoking ban and a prohibition on using a mobile phone while at the wheel.
“Anything that distracts the attention of driver is dangerous. The human mind cannot do two things simultaneously,” said New Delhi’s traffic commissioner Qamar Ahmed…
Fortunately for car-smokers in America, this law originated in India. Had it originated in Europe, a bunch of anti-American Europhilic snobs would be aching for it in the US so that we can catch up to Europe in maturity or whatever. Had it originated in Japan, a bunch of anime geeks would be agitating it… which might not actually be such a bad thing because where they lead no one else will follow. If it were Singapore, conservatives would have eyebrow cocked. But I don’t think there’s any demographic in the US that wants us to emulate India, so we’re probably okay.
Honestly, I think that a safety case could be made for smoking. I have not been a car-smoker in quite some time, but when I was there were times that it proved hazardous when a cigarette was dropped or a cherry came flying off (into my ear, once!). But that’s generally pretty rare. Contrary to the article, it’s not comparable to being on a cell phone or even, in my opinion, listening intently to the radio.
But no doubt the moral scolds* will seize on this opportunity to portray smokers as the scum of the earth. Not only do they have that filthy habit, but they’re also worse drivers. So, ha! But they will do this while assuring us that they’re not targeting smokers specifically except insofar as smoking in the car is dangerous so they’re just targeting dangerous behavior. And they have a point.
But only if they propose to ban eating in the car, too. Eating is a much, much, much more distracting activity by just about any measure. But that will almost certainly never happen because nobody thinks that they can’t eat and drive at the same time. People that have absolutely no experience with smoking in a car will tell you that’s much more dangerous.
It’s not a debate that I look forward to as the smokers’ losing streak continues.
* - I have recently been informed that “scold” is an offensive word to use as a noun because its roots are somewhat sexist. I’ve been using the word most of my whole life and not any more at women than men, as far as I know, so I’m not going to stop using using it. Suffice it to say, however, that I am using the term to describe moral nannies of both genders.