New Jersey Senate panel OKs bill banning smoking in vehicles when kids present

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A New Jersey state Senate panel has advanced legislation that would bar smokers from lighting up in vehicles if children 16 and younger also are present.

The Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens committee passed the measure in an 8-0 vote Monday. Sen. Robert Gordon abstained from the vote, citing concerns that the measure encroached on drivers' privacy rights.

Proponents say the measure would protect children from being exposed to tobacco products and electronic cigarettes in confined spaces. Critics say the bill is well-intentioned but not needed.

Violators would face a $100 fine, but would not face surcharges or points on their driving or insurance records. The smoking ban would be a secondary offense, meaning violators could only be cited if drivers are stopped for committing a moving violation.

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