Smoking in cars with kids is banned in 11 states, and West Virginia could be next

Category: Education/Family


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. traction / ˈtræk ʃən / (n.) – the interest or support that’s needed for a plan, idea, etc., to succeed

    The local charity event is starting to gain traction as more community members show interest in volunteering and supporting the cause.

  2. misdemeanor / ˌmɪs dɪˈmi nər / (n.) – a crime that’s not very serious

    During the protest, several participants were arrested for a misdemeanor after blocking the road without a permit.

  3. pull over (someone) / pʊl ˈoʊ vər / (phrasal v.) – to make someone drive to the side of the road and stop his/her car

    The driver was pulled over by the police for speeding on the highway.

  4. infringe on (something) / ɪnˈfrɪndʒ ɒn / (phrasal v.) – to limit or restrict someone’s rights in a wrong way

    Ignoring traffic signals can infringe on the right of other drivers and pedestrians to safe road use.

  5. fundamental / ˌfʌn dəˈmɛn tl / (adj.) – relating to the most important part of something from which everything else develops

    Understanding the fundamental rules of a game is crucial before playing.


Read the text below.

Smoking in cars with children is banned in 11 states, and lawmakers are pushing to join them in West Virginia, where more adults use cigarettes than anywhere else in the nation, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The state Senate passed a bill calling for fines for anyone caught smoking or possessing a lit tobacco product in a vehicle when someone age 16 or under is present. The bill passed on a 25-8 vote and now goes to the House of Delegates, where similar legislation has failed and it faces an uncertain future.

Senate Majority Leader Tom Takubo, a doctor-turned-lawmaker, made a promise long ago to a patient whose father was a heavy smoker that he would try to ban smoking in vehicles carrying children in West Virginia. Takubo has made it almost an annual effort since 2017 to introduce the legislation, but it didn’t gain traction.

The Kanawha County Republican and lung doctor said the inspiration for the bill was a patient who was not a smoker but lost half of her lung function. When her father smoked, “she had to climb down to the bottom of the car and put her head underneath the seat,” Takubo said. 

Violators would face a misdemeanor subject to a maximum fine of $25. But it would be a secondary offense: smoking with children present cannot be the main reason a driver is pulled over.

Sen. Mike Azinger, a Wood County Republican, said the state has no right to infringe on parents’ freedoms. “The arguments for the bill are essentially emotional arguments,” Azinger said. “This is a cut at the fundamental rights of parents making a decision over their children in their vehicle. This is a state going where it has no business going.”

This article was provided by The Associated Press.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • More adults in West Virginia use cigarettes than anywhere else in the nation. Do you think people in the state would easily support the new law banning adults from smoking in their cars when someone age 16 or under is present? Why or why not? Do you agree with Sen. Azinger that it infringes on parents’ freedom? Discuss.
  • Senator Takubo has made it almost an annual effort since 2017 to introduce legislation that would ban smoking in cars when children are present, but it didn’t gain traction. Why do you think it didn’t gain traction? If this were proposed in your country, do you think it would easily receive support? Why or why not? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • Senator Tom Takubo is a doctor turned lawmaker. He made a promise to a patient that he would try to ban smoking in vehicles carrying children. Do you think lawmakers should base the policies and law proposals on their personal experiences and interactions? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • Do you agree with all the policies that lawmakers have implemented in your city/country? Why or why not? Given the chance, what policy or bill would you like to propose in your local government (ex. education reform, mental health support)? Discuss.