No, it’s not illegal to drive and smoke, but it is illegal to smoke in a car with minors present.
Smoking has become a major public health focus, and while it’s not illegal to smoke while driving in a private vehicle, smoking in cars is regulated. Right across Australia, it’s illegal to smoke when minors are in your car with you, but the exact penalties (and age restrictions) differ state by state.
The New South Wales Health website makes it clear that smoking cigarettes or e-cigarettes in a car with children under 16 is illegal - a law enforced by NSW police.
South Australia’s public health body, SA Health, has a lengthy information page on smoking in cars, too. It’s illegal to smoke in a car with passengers under the age of 16, and SA Health makes it clear that this legislation affects not just drivers, but anyone in a vehicle, no matter whether the car is in motion or parked.
According to 2011 legislation, it’s also illegal to smoke cigarettes or e-cigarettes in a vehicle with children under the age of 16 in the Australian Capital Territory. In Western Australia, as per WA Health’s page on smoke-free vehicles, it’s illegal to smoke in a car if children under the age of 17 are in the car with you. Do it anyway, and you’re looking at a $200 fine - or a fine of up to $1000 if your case gets taken to court.
In the Northern Territory, the NT government’s page on the subject confirms that, because smoking in a confined space increases exposure to secondhand smoke, police can issue a penalty or an on-the-spot-fine if they spot you smoking in a car with children under 16 present. In Victoria, as per Victorian Government Health Information, the rules are even stricter, with children being defined as anyone under the age of 18. You can cop a fine of over $500 if you smoke in a car with someone under the age of 18 present at any time, regardless of whether the windows are up or down.
According to Queensland Health, smoking in vehicles is illegal if children under 16 are present, but also if the car in question is being used in a business capacity and there is more than one person in the vehicle. Similarly, in Tasmania, as per the Department of Health and Human Services site, it’s illegal to smoke in a vehicle with children under the age of 18 present. It’s also illegal to smoke in a work vehicle with other people present.
A quick note; this article is not intended as legal advice. You should check with your local road authority to verify the information written here is suitable to your situation before driving in this manner.
What are your opinions on smoking in cars? Let us know in the comments.