‘No brainer’ needs to be law

Outlawing smoking in a vehicle in Alberta with children present would be a giant step in protecting youngsters from the deadly, addictive poisons.

Outlawing smoking in a vehicle in Alberta with children present would be a giant step in protecting youngsters from the deadly, addictive poisons.

Alberta Liberal Leader Raj Sherman this week opened the gate to that possibility by successfully proposing such a law. But it’s still premature for the anti-smoking movement to claim victory.

“Children see children do: Your children are twice as likely to smoke (tobacco) if you do.”

That’s one of the warnings printed on a package cigarettes.

Other warnings include the messages that: smoking during pregnancy can harm the child; second-hand smoke can lead to serious health matters; smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer; and nicotine is more addictive than heroin and cocaine.

Armed with those proven claims, and others, Sherman that asserted children are vulnerable and it’s the responsibility of adults to ensure their health and safety.

His bill passed third reading late Monday unanimously, a rare, swift passage for a private member’s bill presented by a member of the opposition. “We disagree (in the legislature) on many things, but my plea to everyone was that this bill was a no-brainer and the right thing to do,” Sherman said. “I’m very pleased to see MLAs from all parties put everything else aside and pass the bill.”

If it becomes law, it would be illegal for smokers to light up in a vehicle when anyone under the age of 18 is present. Fines could range as high as $1,000 for a first offence.

Anti-smoking advocates rightfully applaud the bill. “It’s a great bill and it will go a long way to protecting the health of children, particularly in confined spaces where they are exposed to second-hand smoke,” said Les Hagen, executive director of the advocacy group Action on Smoking and Health.

“It’s great to see that the health of children takes precedence over party politics, particularly at election time,” said Hagen. “This is about setting a new social standard and sending a message that we need to protect kids from tobacco.”

However, while the bill is a “no-brainer,” the bill has a long ways to go before it becomes law — perhaps a year, perhaps even longer. Sherman’s bill must still receive royal assent and proclamation before the proposed law is on the books. It’s unclear if the Tories will proceed with those steps before or after the election. And depending on the results of the election, Sherman may have to start from square one with the proposal. He introduced similar legislation in 2008 when he was a Tory MLA, but it fell off the order paper.

Sherman’s bill initially called for the law to come into effect on Jan. 1, 2013. He later agreed to an amendment with no fixed date.

Despite the bill receiving third reading, the Tories hinted revisions might be in order.

Health Minister Fred Horne said his government would like to bring in additional tobacco-reduction measures like higher tobacco taxes and a crackdown on sales to minors. How effective such measures can be is up for debate.

And Tory MLA David Xiao suggested broadening the bill to include people with mental disabilities who might not understand the dangers of second-hand smoke.

The $1,000 fine for a first offence is also questionable. A ticket carrying lesser fines for those wanting to avoid the courts is more realistic.

Whatever the outcome of the election, Sherman’s concerns must be addressed quickly.

The province must not drag its feet. Eight provinces have already brought in legislation protecting children from second-hand smoke in a vehicle.

Rick Zemanek is an Advocate editor.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy Vice-Admiral Art McDonald is seen during an interview with The Canadian Press in Ottawa, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019. Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan says Admiral Art McDonald has voluntarily stepped down as Chief of Defence Staff due to an investigation. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Admiral Art McDonald steps aside as defence chief amid investigation

Lt.-Gen. Wayne Eyre appointed acting chief of the defence staff

Pumpjacks draw oil out of the ground near Olds, Alta., Thursday, July 16, 2020. A new report suggests the economic impact of the pandemic led to a massive increase in federal aid to Canada’s oil patch. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Pandemic increased direct aid to fossil fuel producers, new study shows

At least $1.9 billion in direct aid to traditional energy sector last year

Glen Carritt organized a United We Roll Canada convoy around May 2019 that travelled in 2019. An independent review said he breached council code of conduct rules multiple times. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Former Innisfail town councillor breached code of conduct many times, says review

Consultants say 29 of 36 alleged breaches by Glen Carritt had merit

Meteor spotted over Edmonton, Alta., on Feb. 22, 2021 by several, who took to social media to share their surveillance camera captures. (@KixxAxe/Twitter)
VIDEO: Fireball meteor streaks across sky, spotted by early-morning risers in Alberta, B.C.

Videos of the quick streak of light flashing across the sky before 6:30 a.m. MST

Calgary Flames goaltender David Rittich (33) makes a save on Toronto Maple Leafs left wing Jimmy Vesey (26) as Flames' Christopher Tanev (8) and Joakim Nordstrom (20) defend during first-period NHL action in Toronto on Wednesday, February 24, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
‘Misunderstood’ Nylander ties game late, scores winner as Leafs beat Flames 2-1 in OT

‘Misunderstood’ Nylander ties game late, scores winner as Leafs beat Flames 2-1 in OT

Team Canada skip Kerri Einarson yells to her sweepers at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Calgary, Alta., Friday, Feb. 19, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Young Quebec team in the hunt to join Einarson, Homan in Hearts’ championship round

Young Quebec team in the hunt to join Einarson, Homan in Hearts’ championship round

A crane is used to lift a vehicle following a rollover accident involving golfer Tiger Woods, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021, in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., a suburb of Los Angeles. Woods suffered leg injuries in the one-car accident and was undergoing surgery, authorities and his manager said. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Golf without Woods? Battered leg brings it closer to reality

Golf without Woods? Battered leg brings it closer to reality

Montreal Canadiens head coach Claude Julien looks towards the ice as his team takes on the Ottawa Senators during second period NHL action in Ottawa on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. The Canadiens have fired head coach Julien and associate coach Kirk Muller. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Montreal Canadiens fire head coach Claude Julien, associate coach Kirk Muller

Montreal Canadiens fire head coach Claude Julien, associate coach Kirk Muller

Canada midfielder Sophie Schmidt (13) attempts a shot on goal during the first half of a SheBelieves Cup women's soccer match against Argentina, Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021, in Orlando, Fla. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Phelan M. Ebenhack
Canadian women exit SheBelieves Cup on losing note, blanked 2-0 by Brazil

Canadian women exit SheBelieves Cup on losing note, blanked 2-0 by Brazil

Supporters pray outside court in Stony Plain, Alta., on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021, as a trial date was set for Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church. He is charged with holding Sunday services in violation of Alberta's COVID-19 rules and with breaking conditions of his bail release. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Trial date for jailed Alberta pastor charged with breaking COVID-19 health orders

Trial date for jailed Alberta pastor charged with breaking COVID-19 health orders

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney shakes hands with Jason Nixon, government house leader and environment minister, after Nixon is sworn into office in Edmonton on April 30, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta eyes recall legislation, focuses on COVID-19 aid in spring sitting

Alberta eyes recall legislation, focuses on COVID-19 aid in spring sitting

CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie attends a a news conference in Surrey, B.C., on Thursday, February 28, 2019. The CFL faces more challenges in its 2021 return than it did last year when it was forced to cancel its season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
CFL will have to appease more levels of government to get 2021 protocols approved

CFL will have to appease more levels of government to get 2021 protocols approved

Most Read