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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

No Federal Ban on Smoking in Cars with Children

Q: Did a law go into effect Jan. 30 banning “anyone” from smoking in a car “as long as there are children in the vehicle”?

A: No. There is no federal prohibition, although several state and local governments previously had enacted such bans.


There is no law or proposed legislation at the federal level that bans smoking in cars with children present.

Facebook users recently flagged a story as potentially false that was published in February on amomama.com under the headline: “Smoking in cars with children is illegal starting January 30, 2018.” They were right to be suspicious of the story.

The article claims that, since the end of January, smoking in “any private vehicle” with minors present has been punishable by a $100 fine. It says the purported law is aimed at alleviating the (very real) effects of secondhand smoke.

Although the story is false, it is based on a tiny kernel of truth.

A link in the story leads to a news story posted by Yahoo Lifestyle about a bill, passed Jan. 30 by Alabama’s House of Representatives, that would ban smoking in cars with individuals under the age of 19 present. Violators of that proposed state law would incur a $100 fine.

That does not mean that “a ban has been applied since last month,” as the article on amomama.com says. The legislation still must be approved by the state Senate, and Republican Gov. Kay Ivey would have to sign it. Even then, the law would not take effect until the “first day of the third month” following the Alabama governor’s approval, according to language in the bill.

But the article does not say that it’s referring to an Alabama bill that hasn’t been enacted. Nor does it specify whether it refers to federal, state or local law.

One of the last major federal tobacco-related bills to become law was 2010’s Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking Act. It did not prohibit smoking in cars with children present.

On the other hand, there are eight states, as well as Puerto Rico and Guam, that already had laws to that effect prior to 2018, according to the Public Health Law Center. In addition, a number of cities and towns have passed ordinances of their own.

Outside of the United States, England banned smoking in a car with kids in October 2015. The fine in the U.K. is £50, or currently about $70.

Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to help identify and label false stories flagged by readers on the social media network.


Sihlangu, Junie. “Smoking in cars with children is illegal starting January 30, 2018.” Amomama.com. Accessed 20 Feb 2018.

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Secondhand Smoke.” Cdc.gov. 30 June 2017, accessed 20 Feb 2018.

Cason, Mike. “House passes bill to ban smoking in cars with minors.” AL.com. 30 Jan 2018.

HB 26.” Alabama House of Representatives. Filed 7 Nov 2017.

Public Health Law Center. “U.S. Prohibitions on Smoking in Cars with Children.” Oct 2017.

Another US City Makes It Illegal To Smoke In Cars With Kids.” WBZ CBS Boston. 19 Oct 2017.

Bowdan, Ann. “Ban prevents smoking in car while driving with children.” WLKY News. 12 May 2016.

Sarkar, Monica. “No smoking if the kids are in the car, says England.” CNN. 12 Feb 2015.

Holyoke, Cody. “Law forbidding smoking in cars with children present passes in Schenectady.” WRBG Albany. 12 Dec 2016.

Hickey, Chuck. “Girl Scouts’ push to ban smoking in vehicles with minors passes Aurora City Council.” Fox 31 Denver. 6 Feb 2018.

Holl, John. “THE WEEK; Ban Is Passed on Smokingn In Cars Occupied by Children.” New York Times. 29 Apr 2007.

The dangers of second hand smoke are very, very real!” Rocklandcountygov.com. Accessed 20 Feb 2018.

Associated Press. “New City Smoking Ban in Cars Proposed.” New York Times. 17 May 2017.

DaRonco, Darren. “Tempe ban on smoking with kids in the car takes effect.” Arizona Republic. 22 Jun 2015.

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“Smoking in cars with children is illegal starting January 30, 2018.”
Tuesday, February 20, 2018