Drivers caught smoking in a car with minors ages 17 and under will face a fine according to a new law effective January 1.
The new ban forbids 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. If cited, drivers will be slapped with a $100 fine.
Statistics indicate that smoking inside a vehicle makes the air 10 times more toxic than the federal government says is hazardous for breathing.
Smoking kills approximately 50,000 people a year and African Americans are among the highest group to die from smoking related diseases each year.
When in a confined space, children are especially at risk to the harmful health effects caused by breathing secondhand smoke.
“Secondhand smoke actually causes people to get asthma, especially children,” said Colleen Stevens, health specialist with the tobacco control program at the California Department of Public Health. “And African Americans are ten times more likely to have asthma than other groups.”
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.
The “Smoke-free Cars with Minors” law was authored by Sen. Jenny Oropeza, D-Long Beach.
To demonstrate the effect of smoking on children, The California Department of Public Health kicked off California’s new “Smoke-free Cars with Minors” law Thursday at Hollywood United Methodist Church. Officials held a live demonstration by attaching a meter attached to a child safety seat inside a car that showed the dramatic increase in toxic air pollutants when a person smokes in a car.
Smoking was banned in California workplaces in 1994 and in bars in 1998.
To find out more about the effects of tobacco and second hand smoke, access the web site at