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Smoking in a rental car – Can I smoke in a hire car?

All rental cars are deemed smoke free zones and your rental terms and conditions will stipulate that you are not permitted to smoke in a rental car. That said, unless local legislation stipulate otherwise, you won’t be breaking any laws by lighting up in a rental car. What you will do however is expose yourself to a potentially large cleaning bill from the rental agent and so we strongly recommend that you don’t smoke in a rental car.

smoke in rental car

Cigarette Burns in a Rental Car?

If you do flaunt the terms of your rental and smoke inside the car, not only are you opening yourself up to a possible excess cleaning charge, should you damage the car, whether from a cigarette burn or worse, cause an accident whilst smoking your excess insurance is likely to be invalidated for using the car outside of the terms and conditions of the rental, exposing you to a significant repair bill.

What About E-Cigarettes?

Our advice would remain the same, whilst it’s still a grey area you’re better off pulling over or planning a short break if you want to have an e-cigarette in a rental car. Whilst e-cigarettes don’t produce the same smoke or lasting smell on car fabrics that could leave you in hot water over cleaning / valeting charges, smoking in a car, e-cigarette or otherwise, can cause an unnecessary distraction.

Is it Illegal to Smoke Whilst Driving?

Whilst in the UK, it is not illegal to smoke in the car (unless there are children under 18 years of age on board), much like eating, drinking or other activity it could lead to a charge of driving without due care and attention. Whilst difficult to prove, it’s rarely a risk worth taking. Discarding cigarette butts out of the window is a major cause of wild fires, particularly in hot climates and is a specific offence in many countries. Authorities in France suggested that 16% of all wild fires were caused by cigarette butts thrown from cars.

Where is it Illegal to Smoke in a Rental Car?

We look at current driving laws in some of our most popular locations to see where it would be illegal to smoke in a rental car and restrictions.
Illegal to Smoke whilst Driving?
Yes - if passengers under 16
$250 AUD on the spot fine* varies by state
Yes - if passengers under 16
under 19 in Nova Scotia
Yes - if passengers under 16
Yes - if passengers under 12
NO - Restrictions*
Illegal if causing distraction
No restrictions
Yes - if children on board
Yes - if children or pregnant women on board
up to 650 EUR fine
South Africa
Yes - if passengers under 12
No - Restrictions*
Illegal if causing distraction
Yes - if passengers under 12
Yes - if passengers under 18 (£50 fine)
Both smoker and driver will be fined
Yes - if children on board
Age / restriction varies by state
Kellie Hodge
Posted: July 19, 2018 by Kellie Hodge
About the Author -

Travel writer, customer service guru, Kellie knows the ins and outs of car rental and always happy to share her knowledge on our blog. Favourite country to visit: Spain.

Last updated: Sunday, February 4, 2024
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