February 15, 2008



Bans on Smoking in Vehicles Carrying Children


By: Kevin McCarthy, Principal Analyst



You asked for a description of legislation passed in other states banning smoking in vehicles when children are present. You also wanted to know if there is any data on the effects of such measures. This report has been updated by OLR Report 2009-R-0220.




Arkansas, California, and Louisiana have enacted such legislation. The age of children covered varies by state (certain children under six in Arkansas, children under 13 in Louisiana, and all children under 18 in California). In addition, Puerto Rico, Bangor (Maine), Rockland County (New York), and Keyport (New Jersey) have adopted similar legislation.


Similar legislation has been proposed in 16 states in 2007 or 2008, including Connecticut.  Legislation introduced this year in Maine and Washington has passed the committees of cognizance.


We have not been able to find any information on the effects of the legislation after contacting a several anti-smoking advocacy groups, legislative staff in the relevant states, and the National Conference of State Legislatures. This may be due to the fact that the Arkansas and Louisiana legislation went into effect in 2006 and California’s law went into effect January 1, 2008.


Bans on Smoking in Vehicles Carrying Children




The law (Ark. Rev. Code Sec. 20-27-1902 et seq.) bars smoking in a motor vehicle carrying a child under age six, who weighs less than 60 pounds, and who is in a car seat. It took effect on July 21, 2006. A violator can be fined $25 but can avoid paying the fine for a first offense by showing proof of participation in a smoking-cessation program. The law does not apply to buses (including school buses) and other public conveyances.




The law (Cal. Health and Safety Code. Sec. 1189476 et seq.) bars smoking in a motor vehicle when a minor (17 years old and under) is present.  A violation is punishable by a fine of up to $100. A law enforcement officer cannot stop a vehicle solely to determine whether a driver is violating this provision. The law took effect January 1, 2008.




Louisiana law (La. Rev. Stat. Sec. 32:300.4) bars smoking in a motor vehicle where there are children under 13, regardless of whether the windows are rolled up. The law applies to cars, passenger vans, and pick-up trucks. Violators are subject to a fine of up to $150 or, at the judge’s discretion, at least 24 hours of community service.  Violation of this provision is considered a primary offense, which means that a law enforcement officer may stop a motor vehicle solely because of a violation. But a law enforcement officer may not search or inspect a motor vehicle, its contents, the driver, or a passenger solely because of a violation of this provision. A violation is a nonmoving violation, and a citation issued by a law enforcement officer is not included on the driver's operating record. The law took effect in August 15, 2006.