Smoke-Free Cars

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The Marco Firebaugh Memorial Children’s Health and Safety (H&S) Act of 2007

Effective January 1, 2008, H&S Code §118947 bans the smoking of any cigarette, pipe, or cigar in a moving or parked vehicle while a youth younger than the age of 18 is present.

Purpose of the Law

As a result of this law, children in cars will breathe less secondhand smoke. It may alsoSmoker help reduce cigarette litter on streets and highways, reduce roadside fires, and help smokers to quit.

Children are especially at risk to the harmful health effects caused by breathing secondhand smoke in confined spaces, such as a car or truck. The level of toxic air in a vehicle when someone is smoking is up to ten times greater than the level which the United States Environmental Protection Agency considers hazardous.

The harmful chemicals in secondhand smoke can remain in the air and on surfaces in a car or truck for many hours, and even days, after a cigarette has been smoked. These chemicals stick to surfaces, such as a child’s car seat, making it a potential hidden source of danger for children.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What types of vehicles does the law apply to?

    Smoking is banned in all vehicles when youth are present.
  2. What is the fine for violators of this law?

    Smokers can be fined up to $100 for smoking in vehicles when youth are present.
  3. Who has the authority to enforce the law?

    H&S Code §118947 will be enforced by law enforcement officers such as: City Police officers, Sheriff Deputies, and California Highway Patrol officers. Law enforcement officials may not stop a vehicle for a smoking violation alone.
  4. If I see someone smoking in their car, and children are present, whom should I call to report it?

    Only designated law enforcement officers may enforce the law.
  5. Does California have a history of enacting laws that protect children from a known hazard?

    Yes. California has enacted laws on personal activities based on the existence of a known danger when there are no alternative means to effectively reduce risk or harm. For example, seatbelt and bicycle helmet requirements, child safety seat requirements, and child flotation device regulations.
  6. Who supported this law? What groups opposed the law?

    No groups registered their opposition. Supporting groups included: American Lung Association; American Academy of Pediatrics; American Cancer Society; American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees; American Heart Association; Breathe California; California Black Health Network; California Dental Association; City of Los Angeles, Office of the Mayor; First 5 California; and the Oakland-Berkley Asthma Coalition. In 2005 California Tobacco Survey, 92.3% of California adults agreed that smoking should not be allowed inside cars when children are in them.
  7. Are there other jurisdictions that ban smoking in vehicles?

    While California’s smoke-free car law is the most comprehensive, protecting all minors, other states and jurisdiction have adopted similar policies aimed at reducing involuntary secondhand smoke exposure.
  8. Where can I get more information?

    Contact your local health department’s tobacco control program; the California Department of Public Health, Tobacco Control Section; or the California Clean Air Project.
  9. Where can I find helpful information on quitting smoking?

    Californians who would like help to quit smoking can contact the California Smokers’ Helpline at 1-800-NO-BUTTS(English), 1-800-45-NO-FUME (Spanish) or NoButts.org for a free personalized quitting plan.