‘Is smoking inside my car against the law?’ [Newbie Guide]

Updated Jan 25, 2021 | Same topic: Beginner's Guide

Some facts you might want to take in before you light up that stick.

All that talk about the dangers of smoking aside, lighting up a cigarette has become second nature for generations of huffers and puffers. Nicotine – the main addictive ingredient in tobacco products – is a hard habit to kick, with the adrenaline it releases that gives users a satisfying (albeit momentary) high.

Man smoking in car

Many people burn more than just fuel when they sit behind the wheel

Images of icons such as James Dean and Steve McQueen driving with a lighted stick dangling between their lips soon inspired motorists to smoke more than just their car’s tires.

Driving can be a literal drag for many, and heaven knows we all need that little bit of comfort (wherever it might come from) every time we take the wheel.

As it is, tobacco use is heavily regulated in the Philippines on account of Executive Order 26 that prohibits smoking in public places, including public utility vehicles (PUVs).

But what about private vehicles, whether parked or in motion? Should you expect to be slapped with a fine or jail time if you find yourself reaching for your favorite pack of smokes while seated inside your car?

>>> Related: Lesser-known harmful effects of smoking in cars

Driver smoking

The stress of driving in general makes you crave for a feel-good fix

Since your ride isn’t exactly an area that’s accessible to the general public, the ready answer is ‘No’. To begin with, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) doesn’t include it in their list of motoring offenses. Another thing is that even the Land Transportation Office (LTO) admits that the issue falls under a gray area, as it involves using private property on a public facility. By default, it’s not considered an offense – yet.

However, there are smoking bans in private vehicles being enforced in other countries. Apart from the obvious health reasons, there are safety and environmental factors cited by these prohibitions.

>>> Related: Complete list of LTO fines and penalties in the Philippines

Wildfire

A lighted cigarette butt carelessly thrown out your car window can result in this

For starters, a smoker can easily be distracted by the act of searching for, reaching for, and lighting a cigarette while driving. That’s not even mentioning how the resulting smoke compromises forward and peripheral visibility.

A lighted cigarette falling onto the driver’s lap could result in a panicked reaction, inducing an unnecessary reflex that could lead to an accident. Cigarette stubs thrown out a car’s window, especially in a vegetated area, can result in wildfires.

And of course, accidental cigarette burns on the upholstery (as well as the lingering odor) can adversely affect the car's resale value.

Many jurisdictions including the United States, Australia, Bahrain, Canada, Greece, and South Africa consider smoking inside private cars illegal if done in the presence of children or otherwise minors on board.

The United Kingdom allows smoking inside company vehicles with only one occupant, as long as the employer consents. In Mauritius, smoking in private vehicles carrying passengers has been banned since 2008.

>>> Related: 7 Most Expensive Fines for Traffic Violations in the Philippines (MMDA)

Children in car

Even if the law doesn't say so, avoid lighting up a stick when there are children in the car 

While Philippine laws aren’t as strict in enforcing a smoking ban inside private vehicles, you might want to be more conscious, especially if you take minors and non-smokers along for a ride on a regular basis. Either that, or you could find another hobby that’s just as gratifying without the attendant hazards.

We keep on dishing out beginner motoring tips you can savor at Philkotse.com.

Joseph Paolo Estabillo

Joseph Paolo Estabillo

Author

Joseph has been a member of various car clubs since he got his driver's license in 2004 – old enough to remember riding in taxicabs with analog meters, but his fascination with cars goes way back. After nearly two decades of working in broadcast media, he shifted gears by coming on board as Philkotse’s first Filipino member and staff writer in 2017.

Apart from his role in Philkotse as Content Team Lead, Joseph has written episodes for Drive, which has been airing on CNN Philippines for five seasons running. He has also delivered content for various car dealerships based in the U.S., spanning multiple brands such as Alfa Romeo, Maserati, Jeep, Dodge, among others.

Keeping his hopes high and his revs low, he dreams about owning a Kei car when he retires. Hates slow parkers.

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