Smokefree in your car

Drive Smokefree for Tamariki

It's about tamariki. Our tāonga. Protecting future generations. Every time you get in the car.

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Drive Smokefree for Tamariki from Health Promotion Agency.

Make your car smokefree - Me auahi kore tō waka

  • Agree with the whānau that your car is always smokefree for everyone.
  • Clean out the ashtrays and remove the lighter from your car.
  • Display Smokefree/Auahi Kore stickers to show you mean business!

Choosing to drive smokefree can be tough at first, but honestly it gets easier:

  • try swapping your smokes for some chewing gum
  • turning up the tunes
  • sipping a drink
  • put them out of sight in the glovebox.

Smoking around children and young people is harmful for their health

Children can’t get away from the smoke in your car. Opening or winding down the window doesn’t remove all the poisons in second-hand smoke. The poisons will stay long after the smoke and smell have disappeared.

There is lots of evidence about the harms of second-hand smoke.

  • Children who are exposed to second-hand smoke are more likely to develop illnesses such as chest infection, glue ear and asthma 87
  • Exposure to second-hand smoke increases the risk of sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI) 87 
  • Young people who have friends or whānau who smoke are more likely to become smokers. 
  • Younger children/babies are particularly vulnerable to the effects of second-hand smoke exposure due to their smaller lungs, higher respiratory rate (they breathe faster), and because their immune systems are still developing. 88

The law and smoking in cars

To limit children’s exposure to second-hand smoke, it will be illegal from November to smoke and vape in a vehicle that has children and young people (under 18years old) in it - whether the vehicle is moving or not.

The Smoke-free Environments (Prohibiting Smoking in Motor Vehicles Carrying Children) Amendment Act was passed in May 2020 and comes into force on 28 November 2021. This will prohibit smoking and vaping in motor vehicles carrying children and young people under 18 years of age.

Smoking (or vaping) in a vehicle carrying a child occupant may result in the individual being liable for a fine of $50, or a court can impose a fine of up to $100. 

Why do we need this law?

Results from the 2018 Youth Insights Survey (nationally representative survey of Year 10 students aged 14 to 15-years old) showed that about 15% of 14 to 15-year-olds were exposed to second-hand smoke in vehicles. Māori and Pacific students reported much higher exposure at 26%. 84 

The New Zealand Health Survey 2012-13 found around five percent of children aged 0-14 years were exposed to second-hand smoke in cars. Children who lived in the most deprived areas were almost four times more likely to be exposed to second-hand smoke than children who lived in the least deprived areas. Māori children were 2.6 times more like to be exposed to second-hand smoke than the general population. 85

The vast majority of New Zealanders support this law change. About 95% of adults aged 15 years or over (from the 2018 Health Lifestyle Survey) supported banning smoking in cars when children under 18 years are present. And young people support this law too: more than 90% of 14 to 15-year-olds (from the 2018 Youth Insights Survey) agreed we should ban smoking when children are in them. 86

We encourage community groups to join us and share the message of Drive Smokefree for Tamariki by downloading resources to use in your area or sharing the Facebook Posts to your social pages.

This free guide has more information about making your home and car smokefree – and you can order free Smokefree and Auahi Kore stickers for your home and car.

If you need support to stop smoking, check out www.quitstrong.org.nz

Page last updated: 23 Apr 2021