As of January 21, 2009 everyone traveling in a vehicle carrying children under the age of 16 is banned from smoking or holding lighted tobacco products while children are present. The law is designed to protect children from the health hazard posed by breathing secondhand smoke.
- It applies to both drivers and passengers.
- It is in effect whether or not the vehicle is moving or stopped and whether or not windows, a sunroof or doors are open.
- There is a fine if you are convicted of smoking or holding lit tobacco in a car with children.
Why the Law?
Children regularly exposed to secondhand smoke are more likely to suffer lung damage and breathing problems and have an increased risk of developing severe illnesses, such as asthma.i They are also at greater risk of developing:
- Bronchitis, pneumonia and other respiratory tract infections.
- Worsening asthma symptoms.
- Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.ii
- Middle ear infections.
In-car concentrations of secondhand smoke are up to 27 times greater than in a smoker’s homeiii - and can be more than 20 times more toxic.iv
For more about the law, help to make your vehicle smoke free, or support to help you quit, check out the following links:
i Boulet, LP. Et al. “What is new since the last (1999) Canadian Asthma Consensus Guidelines?” Can REspir J Vol 8 Suppl A March/April 2001.
ii Ministry of Health Promotion Fact Sheet (2006). http://www.mhp.gov.on.ca/english/health/smoke_free/fact_sheets/041505-tobacco_2hand.pdf. Last accessed October 23, 2008
iii Ontario Medical Association position paper (2004). “Exposure to second-hand smoke: Are we protecting our children?”
iv Belanger, M. et al. “Nicotine dependence symptoms among young never-smokers exposed to secondhand tobacco smoke.” Addictive Behaviors. 33 (12), p.1557-1563, Dec 2008.