Fact Check

Is Smoking in Cars with Children Illegal as of January 30, 2018?

Inaccurate warnings about an imminent ban on smoking in vehicles when minors are present have been circulating online since 2016.

Published May 24, 2016

 (Zabavna / Shutterstock)
Image Via Zabavna / Shutterstock
A ban on smoking in cars when children are present took effect on 30 January 2018.

In February 2018, a post on the photo sharing web site LoveThisPic.com conveyed an announcement that smoking in cars when children are present is illegal thanks to a law that became effective on 30 January 2018:

#1 No More Smoking In Cars With Children

The law, that becomes effective on January 30, 2018 is to protect children from secondhand smoking. Violations would result in a fine of up to $100.

#2 Thousands Of Chemicals

According to the Department of Health, when a child breathes in secondhand smoke, they breathe in thousands of chemicals, just like the smoker does. This puts them at risk of serious conditions including cancer, bronchitis, and pneumonia. And it can worsen asthma.

#3 All Private Vehicles

The law applies to any private vehicle that is enclosed wholly or partly by a roof. It still applies if people have the windows or sunroof open, have the air-conditioning on, or if they sit in a parked car with the door open.

Insofar as it gives the impression that there exists a nationwide ban on smoking in cars with children, the post is wholly incorrect. Some state and local governments have instituted such a ban, but no such statute exists in federal law.

Shifting to the state and local level, we were unable to find any announcements of smoking bans in vehicles with minor passengers going into effect on 30 January 2018. However, we did find that a legislative bill passed in the Alabama House of Representatives on that date would, if it becomes law, institute such a ban in that state. Much of the content in the LoveThisPic.com post was taken from a Yahoo! article reporting on the passage of the bill and exploring the larger issue of smoking prohibitions.

To be clear, the proposed Alabama ban did not go into effect on 30 January 2018, and won't go into effect until and unless the bill becomes law.

Another false report of a ban on smoking in cars with minors present appeared in May 2016 on the web site Now8News:

Starting October 1, 2016, it will be illegal to smoke in a car or other vehicles, with anyone under the age of 18. The law is changing to protect children and young people from the dangers of secondhand smoke. Both the driver and the smoker in the car could be fined as much as $80. This law applies to every driver, including those age 17 and those with a driving permit.

There was a whole lot wrong with this article; namely that it originated with Now8News, a fake news site that masquerades as a local television news site while publishing fabricated clickbait stories; that the article text makes no mention of where the referenced smoking ban is supposed to take place; and that the article is simply a republication of a previous hoax with the year updated from 2015 to 2016. The basis of the original Now8News article was a report of a vehicle smoking ban enacted in England and Wales in 2015.


Cason, Mike.   "House Passes Bill to Ban Smoking in Cars with Minors."     AL.com.   30 January 2018.

Weiss, Sabrina Rojas.   "Should We Just Go Ahead and Ban Smoking Everywhere?"     Yahoo!   1 February 2018.

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.