As of December 2018, a handful of states have passed legislation expressly prohibiting smoking in a private motor vehicle with a minor present, with many more proposing future legislation. Laws limit smoking in cars with minors in Arkansas, California, Louisiana, Maine, Oregon, Utah, Vermont and Virginia. Puerto Rico has also added legislation.
While many states prohibit smoking in a vehicle used for transporting children in a daycare or school bus capacity, they allow that privately owned and operated vehicles are exempt from these laws. Check with your locality for more details because some states allow cities or counties to enact further smoking bans.
The Arkansas Protection from Secondhand Smoke for Children Act of 2006 went into effect in July 2006 after being introduced by state Representative Bob Mathis and being championed by Governor Mike Huckabee. The law originally prohibited smoking in a motor vehicle in which a child under the age of six years or who weighed less than 60 pounds was riding. The law was extended to cover all minors under the age of 14 in 2011.
Smoking in a motor vehicle while in the presence of a minor 18 years or younger is a misdemeanor in California punishable by a $100 fine. Though a smoker of cigars, Governor Schwarzenegger applauded the law as a victory for health issues when it went into effect on Jan. 1, 2008.
Governor Kathleen Blanco signed House Bill 1010 in July 2006, prohibiting drivers from smoking in vehicles with children age 12 and younger. Doing so is considered a moving violation. The law went into effect Aug. 15, 2006, assessing violators with a minimum of 24 hours community service and maximum fines of up to $150.
Effective Sept. 1, 2008, smoking is banned in any car in Maine when a person under the age of 16 is present. A driver can't be pulled over or searched solely for violation of this law, but can be fined $50 if caught in violation.
As of January 1, 2014, smoking is prohibited in any motor vehicle where a child under the age of 18 is present.
Puerto Rico made it a crime to smoke in a car while a child is on board in 2007. "Child" is defined as any person under the age of 13. The law was changed and the effective age was raised to 18 on Aug. 9, 2017.
Smoking in cars is prohibited in Utah if any passengers are under the age of 16. The law went into effect on July 1, 2014.
As of July 1, 2014, smoking in vehicles is prohibited when any passengers are under the age of nine.
Vermont is the most recent state to have passed a law against smoking in cars with children. As of July 1 2017, smoking is prohibited in vehicles carrying children under the age of 8.
Nadia Nygaard has been writing and editing since 2005. She is published in "Farm and Ranch Living" and has edited projects as diverse as grant proposals, medical dissertations and tenant law handbooks. She is a graduate of the University of Washington with a Bachelor of Arts in English and women's studies.