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Virginia Law and Smoking in Your Car

Smoking in your car is never a good idea. In addition to the health effects, lighting a cigarette could turn you into a distracted driver.[1] And now there’s one more reason not to smoke in your car. As of July 1, 2016, in Virginia, smoking in your car while a child is present could result in a $100 fine.

It’s all because of a new law that reads:

“It is unlawful for a person to smoke in a motor vehicle, whether in motion or at rest, when a minor under the age of eight is present in the motor vehicle. A violation of this section is punishable by a civil penalty of $100 . . .”[2]

The law bans lighting and holding, as well as inhaling and exhaling smoke from pipes, cigars or cigarettes of any kind or any other lighted smoking equipment.[3] This is a secondary offense, meaning a police officer could not pull a person over simply because he or she saw the person smoking with a child in the car.  However, if “the officer issuing such citation has cause to stop or arrest the driver of such motor vehicle for the violation” of a primary offense, the officer may also issue a ticket for smoking with a child in the car.[4] Primary offenses can include speeding, running a stop sign, or texting while driving.[5]

But the possibility of a $100 ticket should not be the only reason a person does not smoke with children in the car.

The health effects of secondhand smoke on children are well known. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, they include:

  • More frequent and more severe asthma attacks
  • Respiratory infections
  • Ear infections
  • Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)[6]

Children who are exposed to secondhand smoke are involuntarily inhaling more than 250 toxic or carcinogenic chemicals.[7] And the American Academy of Pediatrics has concluded that “exposure during childhood to environmental tobacco smoke may also be associated with development of cancer during adulthood.”[8]

Smoking around children is harmful to their health and yours. If you or a loved one would like to quit smoking, go to for tips and support.


[2] Va Code Ann. § 46.2-810.1(B)

[3] Va Code Ann. § 46.2-810.1(A)

[4] Va Code Ann. § 46.2-810.1(C)




[8] American Academy of Pediatrics, Committee on Environmental Health, “Environmental Tobacco Smoke: A Hazard to Children”, Pediatrics, Vol. 99, No. 4, April 1997.