Police in Virginia Beach, Virginia, have some advice for drivers in the state: Keep the cigarettes in the pack when you're driving with a child present.
The police department tweeted a photo of a ticket it wrote a driver on May 8, showing a charge of smoking in a vehicle with a minor present. "Protect your children and keep $100 in your pocket!" the department wrote.
Smoking in a vehicle with a child under the age of 8 present has been in illegal in Virginia since 2016, but news of the driver's citation sparked a nerve with many on social media, who condemned the ticket as evidence of government encroaching on their lives.
The Virginia law allows officers to fine drivers $100 per infraction, though it cannot be the sole reason someone is pulled over. Other states have their own versions of the law, including California, Arkansas, Louisiana, Vermont, Utah, Maine and Oregon, as well as Puerto Rico, according to the American Nonsmokers' Rights Foundation.
The age cutoff varies widely between the states. In Virginia the child must be younger than 8, whereas in California it is illegal to smoke in a vehicle carrying anyone under 18.
Several other states have considered adopting versions of the law themselves, most recently Alabama, whose version of the law would ban smoking in a vehicle with anyone under 18 present.
“We know secondhand smoke, especially in a car which is a small, compact place, can cause asthma. Not just asthma, it can cause chronic disease," the bill's sponsor Rep. Rolanda Hollis told WBRC.
The fine would be $100, just like Virginia's. It has not yet been signed into law.
Some of the most recent backlash may have been primed by a misleading article published earlier in 2018 which claimed that a national ban on smoking in a car with minors was about to be enacted, leading several fact-checkingwebsites to debunk the article.
While the tweet about the Virginia driver's ticket did spur backlash from some, others wholeheartedly agreed with the charge, often saying they remembered coughing through their parents' secondhand smoke when they were children and did not want that for others.