HALIFAX, Nova Scotia (AP) – While Maine lawmakers ponder similar legislation, a neighboring Canadian province is about to start enforcing a law that bans smoking in vehicles with children in them.

Nova Scotia’s law, which takes effect April 1, prohibits smoking in a motor vehicle when a person younger than 19 is present. The fine is $394.50.

“This legislation is another important step in protecting the health of all Nova Scotians,” said Barry Barnet, minister of health promotion and protection. “Children and young people are susceptible to the effects of second hand smoke, especially in an enclosed space such as a car.”

Last December, Nova Scotia became the first province to introduce such as ban, after the town of Wolfville in the province passed a municipal law banning the practice in November.

Several other provinces are considering similar legislation, as is the state of Maine, where a bill that would outlaw smoking in a vehicle when someone under 16 is present awaits House and Senate votes.

The Maine bill, as approved by the Health and Human Services Committee’s majority, would permit police to issue only warnings for the first year the law is in effect. After that, a fine of $50 could be assessed. The law would take effect Sept. 1, 2008.

Maine’s original proposal was modeled after a city ordinance in Bangor. Several other states, including Arkansas, California, Louisiana and Puerto Rico, have enacted smoking bans.

Nova Scotia’s smoking rates have decreased to 20 per cent of the population from 30 per cent since the province’s Tobacco Control Strategy began in 2001, the government said.

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