Bill to ban smoking with young children in car, age requirement increase fail in ND House

Rep. Pamela Anderson, D-Fargo, watches as red lights outnumber the green (yes) lights on the House tally board during Monday's floor session. Rep. Anderson sponsored two bills to restrict smoking that were both voted down. Tom Stromme / Bismarck Tribune
Rep. Pamela Anderson, D-Fargo, watches as red lights outnumber the green (yes) lights on the House tally board during Monday's floor session. Rep. Anderson sponsored two bills to restrict smoking that were both voted down. Tom Stromme / Bismarck Tribune

BISMARCK - A Fargo representative's bills aimed at restricting aspects of smoking failed Monday in the North Dakota House of Representatives.

Fargo Democratic-NPL Rep. Pamela Anderson introduced House Bill 1274, which would have banned smoking in a vehicle with a child younger than 9, and House Bill 1236, which would have raised the purchasing age for tobacco to 19.

HB1274 failed by 31-57 and HB1236 failed by 25-63 in the House. Both bills received do not pass recommendations from the House Human Services Committee.

HB1274 saw a bit of floor debate. Anderson pointed to other states that have passed or considered similar legislation.

Minot Republican Rep. Dan Ruby said personal property issues affected the bill, while parents who use tobacco products expose their minor children to secondhand smoke in more places than their vehicle.

Finley Republican Rep. Bill Devlin urged support for HB1274 out of concern for children.

"I'm sorry, this is not a parent's right or a private property right," Devlin said on the floor. "In my mind, it's a child's right — a child's right to live a healthy, happy life in the state of North Dakota."

Fargo Republican Rep. Jim Kasper joined Devlin, invoking his parents' smoking-related deaths and other clean air laws in urging a passage of HB1274.

"I remember my brother and my sister and myself sitting in the backseat, both of my parents puffing on their cigarettes in the front seat, opening the window just a crack so we could get some fresh air," Kasper said. "I remember hating it so much and it smelled so much."

Six lawmakers spoke on HB1274 before it failed.

Cando Republican Rep. Greg Westlind urged support for HB1236, pointing to increased vaping among teenagers, but the bill was ultimately lost.