AURORA, Colo. – Members of Girl Scout Troop #60789 helped change smoking laws in Aurora.
An ordinance, which bans smoking in vehicles with children present, passed a 6-5 vote Monday night during an Aurora City Council meeting.
The measure was first introduced by five 13-year-old girls. The teens had one goal; stop people from lighting up inside cars with kids inside. Their efforts have since ignited some strong opinions from both sides.
Hundreds took to the Denver7 Facebook page with reaction to the ordinance’s first reading, which brought unanimous approval.
Some of the posted comments teetered on the edge of cyberbullying. Dozens of posts were extreme. Many went as far as wishing harm on the group of girls.
Online, others pointed out their car is their property and claimed the proposal was an overreach of authority.
Away from the comfort of a computer screen, Denver7 spoke with parents about their reaction to the work the teens have put forth.
“I don't know that I would've thought that when I was 13, just cause that's not something you typically think about at that age. But I think that's really great,” Kim Peterson said.
Peterson explained she is a former smoker and has kicked the habit since having kids.
“I just couldn't imagine doing it in front of them,” she said. “You know, if you're an adult, you can do what you want to do within your own home, your own car. But I think you really do have to take into account what it's doing to your children."
Critics also said this ordinance would be unenforceable.
Regardless of where you stand, the noble effort by the group of girls has quickly spiraled into a heated debate. It's one that was seen among council members at-large during the first reading of the ordinance.
Council member-at-large, Allison Hiltz said to the council, “I take offense to the comment that anyone who is smoking with children in their car is ‘stupid.’ I think that addiction is a very real issue. There are larger factors at play.”
Bob LeGare, another council member-at-large responded, “If someone is addicted to cigarettes and can't put the cigarettes down long enough to drive wherever they're driving with their children, then maybe you should put them up for adoption.”
This debate was directed at an ordinance that, like the seat belt law, would make smoking in cars with kids a secondary offense.
As it stands, those acting against the ordinance could ultimately serve community service, instead of having to pay a hefty fine.
The law takes effect March 10.