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Is It Illegal to Smoke in a Car With a Child in the U.S.?

By Ephrat Livni, Esq. | Last updated on

It has been a while since people could smoke in most restaurants or coffee shops or hotel rooms, but they could light up in cars. Not so if children are present -- at least not in the United Kingdom as of October 1st, 2015.

The new U.K. smoking law bans smoking in private vehicles with passengers under 18 in England and Wales. Violators will be subject to a fine of up to $80, as are drivers who allow smoking passengers. This move is part of an international trend and is based on an understanding that secondhand smoke is harmful

Are there similar laws in the United States or elsewhere around the world?

Protecting Children Around the World

According to the U.K. Department of Health, thousands of chemicals are inhaled with secondhand smoke, aggravating asthma cases, and putting all kids at greater risk for meningitis, cancer, and bronchitis.The British law follows the passage of similar bans in France, which since July, 2015 has barred smoking in vehicles with children under twelve.

South Africa has recently voted on passage of a similar bill while Cyprus already bans smoking with children under 16 in the car, as do many Canadian provinces. Australia's various territories began passing bans on smoking in cars with children in 2007. Bahrain banned smoking with children in the car in 2009, and the island of Mauritius in East Africa prohibits smoking in any car carrying passengers and has done so since 2008.

In American, Car Smoking Bans Depend on the State

In the United States, smoking with kids in the car is banned in only eight states and the age of the child varies state by state. The list, in alphabetical order, is as follows:

  • Arkansas -- no smoking with children under 14
  • California -- no smoking with children under 18
  • Louisiana -- no smoking with children under 13
  • Maine -- no smoking with children under 16
  • Puerto Rico -- no smoking with children under 13
  • Utah -- no smoking with children under 15
  • Vermont -- no smoking with children under 8

There are also smoking prohibitions based on passenger age in certain counties and cities of Hawaii, Indiana, Kansas, New Jersey, New York, and Alabama.

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