Driving tests

Are you allowed to smoke 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 will be able to issue an infringement fee (fine) up to $50 from the end of 2021 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 prohibited in motor vehicle carrying child occupant

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

(2) However, a person may smoke 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 does not prevent vaping in a car when children are present.

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.

Darren is a member of the Institute of Advanced Motorists and the NZ Motoring Writers' Guild

Posted in Advice
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