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Can you vape in the car?

‘Clouds of smoke impairing vision!’ Motorists could face huge fines for vaping in cars

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Motorists have been issued with a Highway Code warning regarding vaping and smoking. Experts are warning that drivers who choose to smoke or vape behind the wheel could face severe punsihments if they cause an accident or drive carelessly.

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Although smoking or vaping while driving is not illegal, smoking in a vehicle with a roof with anyone under the age of 18 is prohibited.

And drivers could be slapped with a £100 fine for careless driving if the police conclude that the driver failed to properly control their vehicle because they were smoking, according to Arnold Clark.

Rule 148 of the Highway Code says you should “avoid distractions” when driving, with smoking listed as an example of that, Liverpool Echo reported.

While vaping also isn’t illegal, drivers who are distracted by e-cigarette smoke can be prosecuted for driving without due care and attention.


Drivers have been issued with a Highway Code warning regarding vaping. (Image: Getty)

The vape clouds can produce similar visual impairments to glare from the sun, which can often cause fatal accidents.

In more serious cases, the charge can attract a maximum £5,000 fine, up to nine penalty points and even a court-imposed driving ban.

As well as this, insurers aren’t likely to cover any damage or injuries sustained in a crash if vision is compromised by smoke.

In a poll by the UK’s largest independent road safety charity, IAM RoadSmart, 57 percent of smokers with a full driving licence surveyed said they draw on a cigarette or vape while driving.



Of those who admit to smoking while driving, just under one in four (24 percent) admitted they do so often, and almost half (49 percent) said they do so only occasionally.

Meanwhile, 16 percent responded that they only vape or smoke on long journeys and one in 10 revealed they only smoke if they have no passengers in their vehicle.

Neil Greig, Director of Policy and Research at IAM RoadSmart, has warned drivers of the risks that smoking behind the wheel could lead to.

He said: «It may be tempting for smokers to light up while behind the wheel, and while this may be legal, smokers should be aware that ultimately this could lead to a substantial fine.

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Vaping in car

Drivers could face fines if they cause an accident or driver carelessly. (Image: Getty)


«Something nobody needs during the cost of living crisis.

«But more importantly, smoking can lead to a range of behaviours and distractions which can put road users’ lives at unnecessary and totally avoidable risk.

«These include driving with only one hand on the wheel, clouds of smoke impairing vision and even the risk of dropping the cigarette.

«If that’s not enough to put the cigarette down, I don’t know what is.»

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The UK’s most dangerous regions to drive in. (Image: EXPRESS)

Rule 97 of the Highway Code states: “You should ensure that clothing and footwear do not prevent you using the controls in the correct manner.”

Drivers face on-the-spot fines of £100 as well as three penalty points for wearing clothing which could restrict proper driving.

These fines can be upgraded to £5,000 in addition to nine penalty points on their driving licences.

If these offences are taken to court, motorists could even face a driving ban.

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The Danger of Vaping Around Babies and Kids

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All What to Expect content that addresses health or safety is medically reviewed by a team of vetted health professionals. Our Medical Review Board includes OB/GYNs, pediatricians, infectious disease specialists, doulas, lactation counselors, endocrinologists, fertility specialists and more.

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mom smoking e-cigarette around kids

Is secondhand vaping from e-cigarettes harmful for children? Here’s what all parents need to know.
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In This Article

  • What is vaping?
  • What are the effects of vaping on your health?
  • The risks of using e-cigarettes with kids at home
  • Vaping regulations to keep kids safe
  • How to protect babies from secondhand vapor smoke

You’ve heard many times by now the reasons not to smoke regular tobacco cigarettes around babies and kids. But given the popularity of e-cigarettes, does the same apply to vaping?

If you vape, you may wonder if you can safely do so around your kids at home — and even if you don’t, you may have found yourself near someone who was smoking an e-cigarette and wondered if it affects your kids’ health.

The short answer: While more research needs to be done, secondhand vaping from e-cigarettes definitely isn’t harmless. Here’s what you need to know to protect your kids.

What is vaping?

Vaping is the act of using an e-cigarette — specifically, the inhaling of vapor from e-cigarettes such as Juuls, mods and vape pens. The point of vaping is to deliver nicotine, a particularly addictive drug, to the body. Vaping devices can resemble traditional tobacco cigarettes, but many look more like pens or, in the case of Juuls, USB drives.

Here’s how it works: When you vape, you inhale on a cartridge or press a button that heats up e-liquid, which contains varying levels of nicotine. The e-cigarette then releases a vapor — i.e. aerosol, often containing toxic chemicals — which is why using one is known as vaping instead of smoking.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has taken some steps to regulate the bustling e-cigarette industry. Manufacturers have to apply for permission from the FDA to sell their product. The agency has banned many flavored e-cig products that may appeal to kids, and limited sales to only those 21 and older.

Most recently, the FDA took steps to stop the sale and distribution of Juuls, but it paused the order after it met challenges in court. Trusted Source Food and Drug Administration FDA Denies Authorization to Market JUUL Products See All Sources [1]

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What are the effects of vaping on your health?

There are dangers to vaping. For starters, vaping devices don’t emit harmless water vapor. Instead, they release aerosols that contain toxic chemicals, some of which have been linked to cancer, heart disease and respiratory disease. For example, some aerosols from vaping can contain diacetyl, a chemical linked to lung disease, and heavy metals such as tin and lead.

Plus, research has shown that when the liquid in e-cigarettes is heated at a high voltage (some vaping products allow the user to set the voltage to produce more or less vapor), other chemicals are formed. And some of them, like formaldehyde, are cancer-causing. A review published by an FDA scientist reported that potentially harmful chemicals were found in the cartridges, refill solutions and aerosols of e-cigarettes. Trusted Source BMJ Chemical Evaluation of Electronic Cigarettes See All Sources [2]

Almost all vaping devices contain nicotine — even ones that are marketed as «nicotine-free,» according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Trusted Source Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Quick Facts on the Risks of E-Cigarettes for Kids, Teens and Young Adults See All Sources [3] To complicate matters even more, the level of nicotine listed on the labels of e-cigarette cartridges and refill solutions can differ significantly from what’s actually in the product.

Nicotine is a highly addictive drug that is harmful for kids’ still-developing brains, and can alter their memory, concentration, mood, learning ability, self-control and attention span. What’s more, using nicotine during childhood can increase a kid’s risk for addiction to other drugs as well.

Smoking e-cigarettes is often considered safer than smoking tobacco cigarettes. But even though e-cigarettes expose people to fewer amounts of harmful chemicals, vaping is still bad for you, in part because it exposes you to other toxic substances.

The risks of using e-cigarettes with kids at home

If you or your partner vapes at home with young kids, know that e-cigarettes pose some of the same risks as regular tobacco cigarettes, including:

Secondhand exposure

There’s not much research yet looking specifically at how secondhand nicotine exposure from e-cigarettes affects kids — no researcher would willingly put a child in harm’s way in the name of science. That said, there is plenty of data showing that secondhand exposure to nicotine and regular cigarettes can harm a child’s health.

Babies exposed to secondhand smoke are more likely to die of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), and kids exposed to secondhand smoke are more likely to get sick more often with ear infections, colds, bronchitis, pneumonia, asthma and breathing problems.

Accidental ingestion

Another danger that parents may overlook is accidental exposure from improper e-cigarette storage. A 2018 analysis showed that between 2012 and 2017, there were 8,269 liquid nicotine exposures among children under 6 years old reported to U.S. poison control centers. Trusted Source American Academy of Pediatrics E-Cigarette and Liquid Nicotine Exposures Among Young Children See All Sources [4]

In addition, children exposed to e-cigarettes were more than 5 times more likely to be admitted to the hospital and more than twice as likely to have a severe health outcome than kids exposed to regular cigarettes.

Vaping regulations to keep kids safe

In December 2019, the minimum age to buy tobacco products, including cigarettes and e-cigarettes, was raised to 21 — a good thing, since the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) warns that any exposure to nicotine, including secondhand exposure from e-cigarettes, may be dangerous for children. Congress also requires child-resistant packaging for e-cigarettes and liquids in order to help prevent accidental poisonings.

Public health officials still have more to do, especially to protect children. The AAP advocates for taxing e-cigarettes and bans on advertising to children, online sales of e-cigarettes and all flavors of e-liquid.

The group is also working to limit secondhand exposure, recommending regulations to restrict smoking and tobacco products in all workplaces, including bars, restaurants and health care facilities as well as in places where children live, learn and play.

How to protect babies from secondhand vapor smoke

While it may be impossible to protect your kids from all exposure to e-cigarettes and vaping devices, there are a number of steps you can take right now to protect your kids’ health:

Get the help you need to quit

If you smoke or vape, one of the best steps that you (and your partner, if he or she also smokes) can take is to quit for good. Hoping that e-cigarettes could help? No studies have proven that they can help smokers stop using nicotine. In fact, some research has shown that vaping makes smokers significantly less likely to quit.

There’s no doubt that for many people, kicking a nicotine habit can be incredibly hard — but it is possible. Remember: Smoking and vaping not only expose your child to secondhand smoke, but they also increase the odds your child will smoke himself later in life.

  • A quit plan: Create one that includes your reasons for quitting, smoking triggers to avoid and strategies to deal with cravings. Check out the National Cancer Institute’s for more info.
  • 1-800-QUIT-NOW hotline: Get free counseling, advice to create a quit plan and information on local cessation resources.
  • The Smokefree Women website: Get judgment-free information and resources designed to help mothers quit all nicotine products, including e-cigarettes.
  • Support groups:Nicotine Anonymous, online support groups and local smoking cessation programs can help.
  • One-on-one or group counseling: Moms who get counseling tend to be more likely to quit and less likely to start smoking again later.
  • Nicotine replacement therapy: Over-the-counter gums, patches and lozenges, as well as prescription nasal sprays and inhalers, are available.
  • Prescription medications: For heavy smokers, prescription medications like Chantix or Zyban that directly impact brain chemistry may help control withdrawal symptoms. But these drugs have been controversial in the medical community, so discuss the pros and cons with your doctor. Also keep in mind that they aren’t safe to use if you’re looking to stop smoking during pregnancy.

Adopt a smoke-free home and car policy

Make smoking off-limits in your home and vehicle — that means no smoking in the house or car by anyone, even when kids aren’t present.

Keep smoking gear stored safely

If you or someone else in your home vapes, always keep the e-cigarettes and liquids locked up and out of reach of children, and be sure to follow the label’s disposal instructions.

Look for «no smoking» signs

Skip facilities that allow smoking. Even if you and your children steer clear of the areas where people are smoking, secondhand smoke is still in the air.

Stick with smoke-free child care

Choose a babysitter or nanny who doesn’t smoke — and if that’s not possible, make sure your child care provider doesn’t smoke in the house, car or around your child.

Tell your kids to stay away from smoke

If your child is old enough, tell her to avoid being around someone who is smoking whenever possible.

The bottom line: No amount of vaping around your babies and children is considered safe. So it’s important to take the proper precautions to avoid exposure to secondhand vaping and get the help or your partner needs to quit.

From the What to Expect editorial team and Heidi Murkoff, author of What to Expect When You’re Expecting. What to Expect follows strict reporting guidelines and uses only credible sources, such as peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions and highly respected health organizations. Learn how we keep our content accurate and up-to-date by reading our medical review and editorial policy.



  1. Food and Drug Administration, FDA Denies Authorization to Market JUUL Products, July 2022. | Show in the article
  2. BMJ, Chemical Evaluation of Electronic Cigarettes, April 2014. | Show in the article
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Quick Facts on the Risks of E-Cigarettes for Kids, Teens and Young Adults, June 2022. | Show in the article
  4. American Academy of Pediatrics, Pediatrics, E-Cigarette and Liquid Nicotine Exposures Among Young Children, May 2018. | Show in the article
  5. What to Expect the First Year, 3rd edition, Heidi Murkoff.
  6., Are E-Cigarettes and Vaping Safe While Pregnant?, February 2021.
  7. American Academy of Pediatrics, Facts For Parents About E-Cigarettes & Vaping, June 2021.
  8. American Academy of Pediatrics, AAP Policy Cites Harms of E-Cigarettes; Urges Screening, October 2015.
  9. American Cancer Society, What Do We Know About E-Cigarettes?, June 2022.
  10. American Heart Association, The Ugly Truth About Vaping.
  11. American Heart Association, The 101 on E-Cigarettes Infographic.
  12. American Heart Association, Is Vaping Better Than Smoking?, October 2018.
  13. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, About Electronic Cigarettes (E-Cigarettes), March 2022.
  14. KidsHealth From Nemours, Vaping: What You Need to Know, July 2022.
  15. National Institute on Drug Abuse, Vaping Devices (Electronic Cigarettes) Drug Facts, January 2020.
  16. The Lancet Respiratory Medicine, E-Cigarettes and Smoking Cessation in Real-World and Clinical Settings: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis, January 2016.
  17. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, Psychosocial Interventions for Supporting Women to Stop Smoking in Pregnancy, October 2013.

Updates history

September 26, 2022

  • Minor copy and formatting changes.
  • Medically reviewed to ensure accuracy.

Can You Smoke/Vape in Rental Cars? (6 Facts)

Can You Smoke/Vape in Rental Cars?

Lots of people smoke in their cars, especially with increasing bans on indoor smoking or public smoking. And most rental car companies have a strict no-smoking policy. But can you vape in rental cars? The short answer is no since smoking bans typically include vaping, even if they don’t directly mention vapes. But it’s a tricky question so let’s look a little deeper.

Can You Smoke/Vape in Rental Cars?

1. The Difference Between Smoking and Vaping in Cars

Buying a car from a smoker can be a nightmare because the smell seems impossible to get out! That’s because scent is particulate, so that smoky smell comes from tiny particles of tar, tobacco, and nicotine that have spread all over the car. These particulate scents sneak into the leather, fabric, and rubbers on the seats, carpets, roofing, steering wheel, and other parts.

Some may even get into the ventilation system. And apart from the smell, nicotine and tar can stain your surfaces. Over the years, stains and particles pile up, making them harder to get rid of. The most effective way to clean a smoker’s car is to use an ozone air purifier. The ozone attaches to bacteria and smoke particles, disinfecting them and snuffing out all aroma.

On the other hand, vaping produces vapor instead of smoke. Vapor is more like steam, so it dissipates within minutes and is sometimes gone in seconds. Vapes often have nicotine, but it’s largely synthetic. And even when a vape uses regular tobacco nicotine, the vape warms the e-juice rather than burning it, so the vape won’t release any tar to stain your surfaces.

For this reason, vapes won’t soil your car in the way that cigarettes will. And since most of the vapor is gone in seconds, it won’t leave much of a smell in the car either. That said, car rental companies don’t always distinguish between smoke and vapor, so if they have a no-smoking policy, it’s illegal to vape inside their cars and they can charge you an extra fee.

2. Smoking and Vaping from the Outside

When someone watches you vaping, they’ll see these hugely dramatic plumes of ‘smoke’ and maybe smell a distinctly chemical flavor. These vape variants range from candy and incense to tobacco and booze. So someone familiar with vapes will recognize the scent, but even a novice will notice the air around you smells odd, even if they can’t quite tell what it is.

Take this up a notch and consider someone vaping in a car. If their windows are closed, you’ll see the fumes building up inside. And if the windows are open, you’ll spot those puffy clouds floating out of the car. In that scenario, no one will stop to check if that’s real smoke or vape fumes, especially if you’re parked in a no-smoking zone, or if your rental is being monitored.

In that context, vaping in a rental car can be just as detrimental as smoking in a rental car. And while the smell of the vape won’t linger as long as cigarette smells, the staff at the car rental will detect the scent of your vape flavor, even if you get the car detailed. You might get paranoid and take the rental to an ozone deodorizer, but the cleaner might report you.

After all, the car will clearly be marked as a rental, so high-end detailers probably have rules about disclosure. Also, the cost of cleaning the car may be higher than the vaping or smoking fine from the car rental company. That said, consider that some states have anti-smoking laws that have been updated to specifically mention vaping, so you could be risking a felony.

3. The Question of Third-Hand Smoke

In cigarettes and tobacco products, second-hand smoke is what you blow out. It affects the people around you and has been proven as carcinogenic. Second-hand smoke is the basis for anti-smoking laws and indoor smoking bans around the world because it potentially harms the health of non-smokers. But with vapes, second-hand smoke isn’t as much of an issue.

This is because tobacco smoke can stay in the air for up to an hour but vape fumes are gone within a few minutes. But with both tobacco and the synthetic nicotine in vapes, you have to consider third-hand smoke. These are the scent particulates that get into fabrics, walls, and surfaces. They can stain walls and turn them yellow, or they can make your car smell weird.

Car rental companies can detect the third-hand smoke from vapes, so even if it’s not as harmful as tobacco, it can still cause issues. Another matter that comes up around vaping in rental cars is the internal temperature of the car. When you charge your vape on the car charger, or when you leave it in the car unattended, it becomes a hazard due to the lithium.

Remember, vapes aren’t allowed in the cargo bays of airplanes because the lithium could explode. And this same thing could happen to a vape left in a car for a few hours, especially in an enclosed parking lot or on a hot day. For the record, many planes will allow you to carry a vape in your hand luggage, though your e-liquid is still likely to leak due to cabin pressure.

4. Localized Vaping Policies

In April 2022, Congress passed a law restricting synthetic nicotine, and this regulation directly affects the sale, distribution, and usage of vapes. Outside of this legislation, many states and counties have their own rules regarding smoking and vaping. So when you hire a rental car, you need to be careful about the terms at your departure point and destination.

You may be driving from a state that has no problem with vape mods, pods, and pens, but if your target state or county has harsher rules, you could get yourself into some trouble. Even if you can work your way around the car rental agreements you signed, a traffic check or a nosy bystander with a smartphone camera could get you busted if the vaping rules are strict.

For this reason, it’s smarter not to vape in a rental car because you’re never sure how far you’ll drive, where you’ll end up, when you’ll be tempted to take a detour on your road trip, and what the vaping restrictions are at the next gas station or parking lot. Lots of top car rental companies have state-wide representation so you can visit any branch in any state.

But because they operate across state lines, their anti-smoking and anti-vaping policies may be tighter. This ensures they stay compliant in multiple counties. And while it’s a hassle for you, it’s more efficient than having a separate rental agreement for every jurisdiction, then trying to mix and match as drivers cross state lines. Rental companies prefer consistency.

5. Think of the Children!

Even people who are liberal towards vaping get squeamish about the kids. Recent anti-vaping laws restrict the legal purchasing age to 21, and many vape stores will card you at the door. Also, retail stores are restricted to mint, menthol, and wintergreen flavors since kids avoid these variants. But what does this have to do with vaping in rental cars? Everything!

You probably don’t vape around your kids. But in a rental car, you don’t know the next person that will use your vehicle. And while vape fumes fade into the open air in minutes, they stick around longer in a car because some of the scents and flavors will get into the car upholstery. This essentially means any kids riding in that car after you will still be exposed.

This could be the biggest argument against vaping in rental cars – the possibility of harming kids that get into that car once you’re gone. Remember, even ozone deodorizers may leave traces of nicotine in the car, so there’s no guarantee the residue won’t hurt kids’ health. Plus it’s really just bad manners to involuntarily impose your vape fumes on someone else’s child.

While vapes are said to be less toxic than tobacco products, the chemicals in strong vape flavors can still be triggering to young respiratory systems. Especially if the kids already have ailments like asthma and allergies. Also, kids are sensitive to smells and finicky about the ones they don’t like, so some fussy child is sure to throw up when they smell kiwi custard.

6. Smoke Detection in Cars

Yes, some newer cars do have hi-tech features including remote sensors, air quality monitors, and smoke detectors. If these devices have ionizers or optical equipment, then they can spot cigarette smoke as well as vape fumes. This means the rental company can tell you’ve been smoking or vaping long before you hand over the car, and they’ll charge you extra.

It should be pretty clear by now, but in case you’re still wondering, can you vape in rental cars? If they have a no-smoking policy, no, you can’t. Even if the papers don’t specifically list vapes. It’s much smarter, safer, and cheaper to step out of the car and take your vape to an open-air smoking zone. And don’t leave used pods in the car either – they might explode!

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