Protect children’s health; new law prohibits smoking and vaping in vehicles with children


CONTACT: Wes Stubblefield, M.D., (256) 340-2113

Secondhand tobacco smoke leads to health problems, and there is no safe level of exposure for children or adults. A newly enacted Alabama law prohibits smoking or vaping in enclosed motor vehicles with children ages 14 and younger as passengers. 

Children’s smaller bodies take in a larger amount of air, so tobacco smoke is particularly hazardous to them. In infants and children, secondhand smoke can cause: 

  • Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) 
  • Respiratory infections 
  • Ear infections 
  • Asthma attacks

SIDS is the sudden, unexplained, unexpected death of an infant in the first year of life. It is the leading cause of death in otherwise healthy infants. Chemicals in secondhand smoke appear to interfere with regulation of infants’ breathing.

Children who are exposed to secondhand smoke are at an increased risk for 

  • Pneumonia and bronchitis 
  • Wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath
  • Middle ear disease 
  • Ear infections and operations to put in ear tubes
  • More frequent and severe asthma attacks that can put a child’s life in danger
  • Slowed lung growth

Protecting children from secondhand smoke also means not using other types of commercial tobacco products. These include e-cigarettes.

  • Aerosol from e-cigarettes is not harmless. It can contain cancer-causing chemicals. These include heavy metals like nickel, tin and lead, among other chemicals.
  • E-cigarettes are not safe for children, teens, young adults, pregnant adults, or people who do not already use tobacco.
  • No e-cigarette has been approved by the FDA as a quit smoking aid. 

To protect children riding in your vehicle, do not let anyone smoke. Rolling down windows does not protect them. Smoking or vaping in an enclosed vehicle with children is a secondary violation. This means that if a driver is pulled over for another reason and a child is present, fines are up to $100.

The Alabama Department of Public Health urges you to make the decision to quit smoking. To get confidential information, referrals and counseling:

  • Call this free quitline: 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669)
  • Go to this website:             
  • Text QUIT to (205) 900-2550




County health departments throughout Alabama provide a wide range of confidential and professional services. Contact your local county health department for additional information.

Mission: To promote, protect, and improve Alabama’s health

Vision: Healthy People. Healthy Communities. Healthy Alabama.