AURORA | An ordinance proposed by local Girl Scout troop outlawing smoking cigarettes in cars carrying children got initial approval Monday night from Aurora City Council, but not before a lengthy amendment process and lively debate.
The troop’s ordinance seeks to ban smoking and vaping in a car with a juvenile. Doing so could come with a $150 fine or community service for first time offenders.
Council members approved the ordinance on first reading unanimously. The measure must garner approval at a final reading before becoming law.
The measure would make smoking in a car with minors a secondary offense, meaning law enforcement can only cite offenders if the car is pulled over for another reason, such as speeding. The Girl Scouts and some council proponents asked to make the ordinance a primary offense to officers could pull over suspected scofflaws for that reason alone.
Council members also tried to change the ordinance so that it only applied to smoking in a car with a child 8 years old or younger, but ultimately decided to leave that aspect of the ordinance alone. Smoking will not be permitted in a car with a juvenile younger than 18 years old.
Additionally, the ordinance will have to be reauthorized in February 2020.
And while the council members generally agreed that the ordinance was a good idea, debate on the details didn’t come without a few tense moments. When Councilman Bob LeGare stuck by his statement that those who smoke in cars with juveniles are “stupid,” Councilwoman Allison Hiltz requested a different word be used so not to offend any Aurora resident.
“If somebody can’t put cigarettes down long enough… maybe they should put their kids up for adoption,” LeGare said.
Hiltz shot back later on Twitter, “I believe that, as elected officials, it is our responsibility to maintain professionalism and refrain from name-calling on the dais. These comments were not made in a bar or in a private setting, they were made in a public meeting.”
The ordinance is part of the Aurora troop’s aim for a Silver Award, the highest award a Girl Scout Cadette can earn. Troop leaders Kristen Batcho and Michele Malchow said at first they were surprised by the scope of what the troop of five wanted to do for a project, which could earn them a national award.
At earlier council meetings, the girls said they never expected their effort to grow so big. They just wanted to help other kids.
Now it looks as if they’ve just about reached their goal. The ordinance will undergo one more round of voting before becoming official.