Health & Safety

Since its inception, CAI has successfully advocated for several sweeping reforms to help ensure children’s health and safety, including the Swimming Pool Safety Act, requiring residential swimming pools constructed after Jan. 1, 1998 to have one of several specific safeguards; the Bicycle Helmet Law, requiring helmets for kids under 18; the Children’s Firearm Accident Prevention Act, making a gun owner criminally liable if he/she leaves a loaded firearm in a place accessible by a child, and the child accidentally injures himself/herself or others with the gun; and the Unattended Child in Motor Vehicle Safety Act, making it an infraction for the parent, legal guardian, or other person responsible for a child who is six years of age or younger to leave that child inside a motor vehicle, without being subject to the supervision of a person who is twelve years of age or older, and where there are conditions that present a significant risk to the child’s health or safety, or when the vehicle’s engine is running or the vehicle’s keys are in the ignition, or both.

Also, CAI was instrumental in the implementation of California's Kids’ Plates (Have A Heart, Be A Star, Help Our KIDS) personalized license plate program (offering license plates featuring a heart, star, plus sign, or child’s handprint), which raises millions of dollars each year for child health and safety programs.

CAI's work in this area includes the following:

  • In 2018, CAI sponsored AB 2511 (Chau) (Chapter 827, Statutes of 2018) which enacted The Parent’s Accountability and Child Protection Act. Among other things, this measure requires, commencing on January 1, 2020 and notwithstanding any general term or condition, that a person or business that operates a business in California and that seeks to sell certain products or services that are illegal to sell to a minor under state law, take reasonable steps, as specified, to ensure that the purchaser is of legal age at the time of purchase or delivery, including, but not limited to, verifying the age of the purchaser. This bill provides that a business or person that violates these provisions is subject to a civil penalty of up to $7,500 per violation in an action brought by a public prosecutor.
  • CAI helps thwart effort by lead paint companies to make taxpayers pay for lead paint cleanup. In a May 2018 editorial published by the San Francisco Chronicle, CAI’s Ed Howard described how three powerful corporations were behind an initiative deceptively called the “Healthy Homes and Schools Act” which would have overturned a state appellate court ruling that found that for decades the companies “knowingly promot(ed) lead paint for interior residential use,” even though they knew lead exposure was dangerous, especially to children, and ordered them to create a fund for homeowner abatement efforts estimated to cost $700 million. Also, the initiative would have made it impossible for homeowners or anyone else to sue them again on the same grounds, declared that lead paint is not a public nuisance, and impaired the Legislature’s power to pass laws to aid homeowners and victims. And in addition to wiping out the companies’ court-ordered liability, the initiative also would have forced taxpayers to pay to pay for lead paint cleanup—draining an estimated $4 billion from future state budget priorities, including schools and health care for kids.
    In addition to revealing the true nature of the paint companies-sponsored initiative, Howard’s op-ed discussed the efforts of several lawmakers who introduced 2018 legislation to aid victims, impose fees on paint companies to create a fund to help homeowners, permit more inspectors, and more.
    Due in part to CAI’s advocacy and public education efforts, the paint companies announced in June 2018 that they were withdrawing the initiative from the November ballot.
  • CAI, which helped win enactment of California’s bicycle helmet safety law in 1993, supported 2018’s AB 3077 (Caballero) (Chapter 502, Statutes of 2018), to allow a person under the age of 18 who is cited for not wearing a bicycle helmet to correct the violation within 120 days by proving he/she has a properly fitting helmet and by attending a bicycle safety course if one is available. CAI believes that AB 3077 will renew a collaborative effort among local law enforcement, schools, children’s health and safety groups, and others to encourage the use of and access to helmets.
  • In 2017, CAI co-sponsored AB 504 (Wieckowski), which would have directed the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) to review scientific literature on the risks to children who consume synthetic food dyes, if any, and issue a report that answers specified questions no later than July 1, 2019. Although that measure was not enacted, CAI—along with the Center for Science in the Public Interest and other advocates—continued to urge policymakers to have OEHHA review research suggesting that synthetic food dyes in child-oriented foods triggers hyperactivity and other behavioral problems in some children. In June 2018, Senator Wieckowski announced that almost $500,000 was included in the state’s 2018–19 budget to have OEHHA conduct the literature review and risk assessement on the potential impacts of synthetic food dyes on children.