Tennessee bill seeking to punish adults who smoke in vehicles with children present fails

Clay Bennett poses for a photo illustration about smoking outside of the Chattanooga Times Free Press on Wednesday, Jan 24, 2018 in Chattanooga, Tenn.

NASHVILLE - A bill allowing police to cite adult motorists who are smoking in vehicles with children present narrowly failed on the state Senate floor Wednesday after a fierce debate about health versus personal freedom.

The vote was 16-8. Seventeen "yes" votes were required to pass the bill.

"It's not intended to be punitive to the driver," said Sen. Richard Briggs, R-Knoxville, a physician and sponsor of the bill. "It's intended to be an education on the hazards of smoking in a closed vehicle."

photo Richard Briggs

Briggs said all he wanted to do was decrease the hazard to children.

Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Paul Bailey, R-Sparta, said the legislation "was an overreach into the lives of all Tennesseans" and motorists passing through the state, as well.