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Smoking laws in cars: what you need to know

Sometimes it’s illegal to smoke in a car, and sometimes it’s not – we explain everything

In the 1960s, about 70% of men and 40% of women smoked. And while the 13.5% of UK adults who smoke today may represent a sea change in attitude, smoking remains a habit that shows no signs of completely dying out.

Something that has changed with the popularity of smoking is the laws regarding smoking in cars. New laws were introduced in 2015 specifically targeting smoking in cars, while broader legislation introduced in 2007 related to smoking in vehicles used for work. Read on for all the details.

Is it legal to smoke and drive?

If you’re in your own car and any passengers you may have are 18 or older, it’s perfectly legal to smoke in a car – but you shouldn’t let smoking distract you from the task of driving.

Rule 148 of the Highway Traffic Act states that you must “avoid distractions” when driving, with smoking being cited as an example of distraction.

It is not the same as smoking in a car being banned, however, only a requirement that if you smoke it does not prevent you from driving.

If you are involved in a collision and it is determined that smoking distracted you, you could be charged with careless driving, but eating or drinking, listening to loud music, or arguing with a passenger could also result in this charge.

If a police officer determines that smoking has made your driving reckless, you could receive a fixed £100 fine and three points on your licence.

What if children are in the car?

It is illegal to smoke in a car if any passengers are under 18. This follows from the Children and Families Act 2014, which requires: “a private vehicle must be non-smoking when a person under the age of 18 is present in the vehicle.

The only exceptions to this are:

  • If the car is a convertible and the roof is completely down
  • If the driver is 17 years old and in his own car

If you are caught smoking in a car with under 18s, you face a £50 fine.

The law only applies to cigarettes: it is legal to vape/smoke e-cigarettes in a car with children in it.

Is it legal to smoke in a work car?

Smoking was banned in UK pubs and workplaces in 2007, and this legislation also applies to work vehicles. This means that if you have a company car, van, taxi, truck, bus or any other vehicle “used by more than one person”, it is prohibited to drive there. to smoke. Do this and your employer can be fined up to £2,500. You can smoke in a company car if you are the only one using it, although this must be agreed with your employer.

Can passengers smoke in the car?

Assuming there are no occupants under the age of 18 in the car and it is not a work vehicle, it is legal for passengers to smoke inside. However, they must not distract the driver.

Smoking laws in a car FAQ

Here we answer some of the common questions on this topic.

Can we smoke in a rented car?

Assuming it’s a personal lease and not a work lease, you should be allowed to smoke in a car that’s under a PCP, PCH or other type of finance contract – although check your contract or talk to the finance company to be sure. Note that most rental contracts contain a “normal wear and tear” clause; if the cigarette smell penetrates the fabric of the car and elsewhere, you could find yourself liable for additional charges.

Can we smoke in a rental car?

No. Rental companies all have non-smoking clauses in their contracts.

Can you vape and drive?

Yes: As stated above, it is legal to smoke in your car, even if you are under 18. Keep in mind that you can still face a reckless or even dangerous driving charge if vaping prevents you from driving.

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