KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The environment, children and smoking are issues Vari Patel and three other teens from the Kansas City metro felt needed attention so people can live healthier lives.
“And when you’re inside a car while someone is smoking, this cessation is 100 times greater inside of a car than when it is in an outside environment,” Patel said.
The group would like to see Kansas and Missouri lawmakers take seriously a proposal they’ve written that would ban smoking in a vehicle when children are present.
“When adults are smoking in a car, a minor is going to be present and in most times, those minors don’t necessarily have a voice to say, ‘Hey, can you stop smoking?’ Because even adults find it hard to tell other adults in the car to stop using these products,” Patel said
The suggested legislation, according to Patel, doesn’t seek to affect any groups disproportionately. As for enforcement, it would be a secondary offense.
“But when you’re speeding and a police officer pulls you over, then they can take you off for smoking in a car while a minor is present,” Patel said.
It took the teens eight weeks to research and draft the proposal that was a part of a social change internship with Startland, a community-building nonprofit.
Zara Jamshed, another group member, said they have pitched the proposal to several city councils, including Overland Park, Shawnee, Mission, Olathe, Blue Springs, Leawood and Prairie Village.
“Last week, we got in touch with people at Wyandotte and Johnson County, so we’re going to learn how you can pass legislation there, how that process works so that’s something we’ll also see in the coming months,” Jamshed said.
“If you have a reason of why you’re trying to make change, then anyone can make change and it doesn’t matter the age,” Patel said.
In the U.S., there are at least eight states that currently ban smoking with a child inside a vehicle.