You can’t smoke tobacco-based products in a car carrying anyone under 18, but does this law make it illegal to vape in a car with children present?
Smoking has been banned in cars with kids on-board since October 1, 2015, but motoring journalist and expert Pete Barden looks at where the law stands on vaping in the same circumstances. Here’s all you need to know when driving with kids and vaping.
We know this is not allowed for tobacco-based products in most types of vehicle, but the law doesn’t apply to the use of e-cigarettes for people vaping.
Smoking laws governing cars with anyone under 18 do not apply in the following cases:
people using e-cigarettes (vaping)
any driver if they are on their own in the car
a convertible car with the roof fully open
Unlike the use of mobile phones, there are no specific laws banning you from vaping while driving, but you could still charged with careless driving.
Exhaling huge amounts of vapour associated with vaping while driving a car could result in your vision being obscured and see you reported by police. You could then face fines of up to £2,500 along with other penalties.
Subscribe for free motoring and travel news here - support independent journalism
Vaping with -18s in a vehicle is legal – for the moment – but Sergeant Carl Knapp of the Sussex Roads Policing Unit said: “The smoke caused by vapes are a distraction and the consequences of them can be dire, all it takes is a moment to become distracted and potentially cause a crash and even worse, a fatality.
“’There are no laws prohibiting vaping – however, you need to be in full and proper control of your vehicle at all times.”
If you drive with obscured vision, you could be charged with driving without due care and attention. This could result in fines of up to £2,500.
There is a growing consensus among public health experts that banning vapes in cars with children is a necessary step to protect children from secondhand aerosol exposure. Secondhand aerosol exposure is known to be harmful to children, just as secondhand smoke is. It can cause a number of health problems in children, including respiratory infections, asthma, and decreased lung function. It can also increase their risk of developing nicotine addiction.
A number of countries have already banned smoking in cars with children, and some are now considering banning vaping as well. In the United States, for example, the state of California has banned vaping in cars with children under the age of 16. This law came into effect in 2021.
There are a few arguments against banning vapes in cars with children, such as the claim that it is an infringement on the rights of adults to vape. However, the potential health benefits of banning vapes in cars with children outweigh the potential drawbacks. Banning vapes in cars with children would be a simple and effective way to protect children from secondhand aerosol exposure.
Overall, the latest thinking around banning vapes in cars with children is that it is a necessary step to protect children's health.
Most read motoring content
Take a look at more of our top motoring-related content here...
Author: Pete Barden:
Pete Barden is a qualified journalist who has written and produced for publications including The Sun (thesun.co.uk), New Statesman Media Group, Whatcar? (Whatcar.com) Stuff Magazine (Stuff.tv), Fastcar Magazine (Fastcar.co.uk), Maxim Magazine and UK broadcast stations within the Heart network (Formerly GCAP). Pete specialises in motoring and travel content, along with news and production roles. You can find out more about Pete Barden on LinkedIn.