In economics, there is an idea called externalities. Basically, it refers to any activity that unintentionally impacts others in a way that isn’t factored into a product’s cost.
Sometimes externalities can lead to good things, such as a bee farm pollinating a farmer’s crops. Usually, though, people refer to negative externalities like a factory dumping waste into a river.
Did you know that our everyday activities can lead to externalities, too? Just think about this one: smoking.
For years, people didn’t believe that second-hand smoke hurt bystanders. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has noted that approximately 2.5 million people have died from second-hand smoke in the United States since 1964.
When we think of tobacco-related illnesses, we tend to immediately imagine lung cancer. However, second-hand smoke can cause a whole bevy of other illnesses — and it’s particularly nasty for children.
For instance, second-hand smoke can lead to asthma attacks, wheezing and coughing. It also tends to sicken kids and lead to inner-ear infections.
Perhaps that’s why multiple states have passed laws imposing penalties or fines for adults smoking in vehicles with children. According to Legal Beagle, as of December 2018, those states include Arkansas, California, Louisiana, Maine, Oregon, Utah, Vermont and Virginia.
Indiana may soon join that list. WIBC reported that Indiana state senators have introduced legislation to discourage adults from smoking in cars with kids.
A bipartisan measure, it would levy hefty fines if adults light up while behind the wheel with children six years old or younger present.
An initial violation would set back offenders by $1,000, as would a second. If they got caught a third time, that number would ramp up to $10,000.
But note the use of the word “if.” Bill sponsor Republican state Sen. Jim Merritt has noted that enforcing the law would prove difficult.
Still, he hopes that the measure would do something else. He hopes it would drive home the point that adults need to put kids’ health first and foremost.
“I want to say to mom and dad (that) this is not right,” he stated. “Smoking is a danger to yourself as well as others, and to be riding along in a car and getting second-hand smoke is just not acceptable for anyone but more so for children who just don’t have a choice.”
Note that this proposed law only applies to the state of Indiana. Snopes has reported that memes have circulated saying that the restriction will apply to the whole country.
But no matter what the law says, we all know the steps that responsible adults should take. If they won’t stop for their own sakes, they should at least do so for the little lives around them.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.