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Are you allowed to smoke or vape with children in the car?

It is against the law for anyone to smoke in a motor vehicle which is carrying anyone under 18 years old (i.e. aged 0-17).

Under the Smoke-Free Environments Amendment Bill, police can issue an infringement fee (fine) up to $50 and, in the meantime will be exercising discretion in terms of giving warnings and education. If the case goes to court, they may issue at fine not exceeding $100.

If a vehicle is used as a dwelling (e.g. a campervan, motorhome or house bus), there is an exemption as long as the vehicle is stationary and parked (i.e. not just stopped at a red traffic light).

The text of the legislation is:

20D: Smoking or vaping prohibited in motor vehicle carrying child occupant

(1) A person must not smoke or vape in a motor vehicle, whether moving or stationary, that is on a road and has a child occupant.

(2) However, a person may smoke or vape in a motor vehicle if—

(a) the person is the only occupant of the motor vehicle who is under the age of 18 years; or
(b) the motor vehicle is—
(i) manufactured for use as an occasional or permanent dwelling; and
(ii) stationary on a road and in use as a dwelling.

If you are the driver of a car and you are 16 or 17, can you smoke?

As per clause 20D(2)(a), if you are the only person in the car and you are aged 16 or 17, then you are allowed to smoke.

If you’re under 18 and the driver, and you’re the only one in the car, you can still smoke.

If the car is a convertible with the roof down, can you smoke?

No. The law is clear: it applies to any motor vehicle which is being driven, regardless of whether it is open to the atmosphere or not. Note that a motor vehicle also includes a motorbike.

Are you allowed to vape with children in the car?

The law also prevents vaping in a vehicle when children are present (this is an amendment that came into force on 28 November 2021). While it’s not possible to have conducted long-term studies yet (vaping hasn’t been around that long), scientists are concerned about increases in certain types of conditions and reactions in people who have been exposed to secondhand vape smoke, and in those who vape.

Vaping isn’t included in the law

What are the other advantages of banning smoking in cars?

As well as preventing lung damage in thousands of children, smoking while driving increases the crash risk and reduces the value of your vehicle.

Can you be fined for smoking or vaping when children are in the car?

You can be fined up to $1000 for intentionally obstructing, hindering or resisting a police constable exercising powers under the Act to stop and question a driver who appears to be driving with a child while smoking or vaping.

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Darren has written over 3000 articles about driving and vehicles, plus almost 500 vehicle reviews and numerous driving courses. Connect with him on LinkedIn by clicking the name above

Posted in Advice