Car Rental Fleets Going Completely Smoke-Free

Locations in this article:  Los Angeles, CA New York City, NY Pittsburgh, PA Santa Barbara, CA St. Louis, MO

Car driverBeginning next month, Avis and Budget will become the first major rental-car companies to impose a fleet-wide smoking ban and will penalize customers who break the rules.

The ban will go into effect on October 1, with every vehicle in North America affixed with a sticker alerting customers to the new rules.

So what does this mean for travelers planning on renting a car?

The companies have also implemented an inspection process, and will levy a $250 for drivers who return a rental car that smells of smoke or shows other evidence of smoking.

Although some smokers have reported they will no longer rent from Avis and Budget, the company expects its smoke-free policy will actually help the bottom line.

Check out our Driving & Car Rental section for money-saving tips and great driving adventures.

“Tobacco smoke leaves a residue on fabrics, fibers and surfaces of vehicles, which emits odors that many people find unpleasant,” said Larry De Shon, executive vice president of operations for Avis Budget Group in a public statement. “In fact, we receive more customer requests for smoke-free vehicles than any other ‘special request.’”

4x4So far, other major rental-car companies have not followed the fleet-wide ban, but some companies allow franchise operations to implement their own no-smoking policies.

Smoking bans have been a growing trend in travel since 1988, when Congress barred smoking on short domestic flights. Since then, smoking restrictions have spread to trains, hotels, bars, restaurants … and even to entire destinations.

The state of Pennsylvania recently celebrated its one-year anniversary since enacting the Pennsylvania Clean Indoor Air Act, which banned smoking in public places. Local bars and restaurants have reported a slight shift in clientele, but no drop in business.

New York City enacted its indoor smoking ban back in 2003, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg is now considering extending the ban to public parks and beaches. In 2004, Ireland became the first European country to impose a smoking ban in workplaces, including bars and restaurants. Find out what happens when a famously smoky country tries to kick the habit in The French Smoking Ban: Six Months Later.

By Dan Bence for

Related links: USA Today, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Newsweek, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Related links on