When was the last time you worked on a new car that came equipped with a stock lighter and ashtray? If you’re anything like me, you don’t even know. That’s because automakers started to silently phase them out sometime in the mid 90’s. By the 2000’s, most cars only offered them as optional features. Today, many cars don’t even do that.
In the course of researching why that is, I came across two articles that are definitely worth a read.
In November of 2000, The Nevada Daily Mail published an article titled “Automakers Drop Ashtrays, Lighters from New Cars” that explained the disappearance of these one-time automotive staples on a change in consumer demands.
Honda and other manufacturers are designing ashtrays and lighters out of many new models, both to please consumers and cut costs. […]
“You respond to consumer demand,” said Art Garner, a spokesman for American Honda Motor Col, the Torrance, Calif., subsidiary of the Japanese manufacturer. “Consumers say, ‘I don’t need an ashtray. What I would like is a little storage place here. I don’t need a lighter. What I would like is a place to plug in my cell phone.’”
Eliminating lighters and ashtrays as standard equipment on millions of cars also saves money for automakers, most who now sell optional “smoker’s packages” for $15 to $100 for items once included with every new car. […]
The changes reflect a continuing evolution in dashboards and interiors, said Jeffrey Rose, vice president of technology at Textron Automotive Co., a Troy, Mich., company that is one of the leading providers of interior components for new cars.
Travelers in the 1950s and ‘60s were never far from an ashtray – many cars came with both lighters and ashtrays fitted into every door. But that was before the arrival of multiple cup holders and storage spaces, switches for power windows and door locks, outlets for cell phones and amenities like garage-door openers fitted into sun visors.
Australia’s The Daily Telegraph, however, attributes the disappearance of cabin lighters and ashtrays to a better social and legal understanding of the health risks associated with smoking, as well as a clamp down on distracted driving. In a 2007 article titled “No Ash Therefore No Tray“, the newspaper reported:
The phasing out of cigarette lighters and ashtrays is expected to pick up pace as rules tighten around the world on smoking while driving.
Since the introduction of Queensland’s smokefree workplaces in 2002, there has been a ban on smoking in work vehicles when more than one person is present.
In July, Health Minister Stephen Robertson foreshadowed a prohibition on smoking in cars carrying children during the review of tobacco legislation expected to start soon.
But Queensland is not alone in a clamp down on smoke-driving.
Earlier this month, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill to come into effect in January banning anyone smoking in a car with a person under the age of 18 present. The fine is $US200.
Cyprus and three other US states have similar bans, while several countries including Ireland and South Africa plan to introduce the smokefree cars with children reform.
South Australia implemented a ban on smoke-driving while children are present in May and since then, police have issued 29 on-the-spot fines and 11 cautions.
Tasmania will introduce the ban in January and NSW has flagged smoke-free cars carrying children as the next area of reform. But the issue is not just a matter of health.
Last month, the new UK Highway Code declared offenders could be charged with driving without due care and attention and New Delhi has a total ban on smoking while driving as a road safety driver-distraction issue.
Personally, I like the fact that cars no longer come equipped with lighters and ashtrays. With all that we know about the dangers of second-hand smoke, I find it irresponsible of folks to smoke in cars that carry passengers who don’t.
There is one major downside though: without ashtrays, I often find myself having to leave screws and clips on a car’s floor where they either get lost or stepped on.
Naseem Muaddi says
Great article Nadeem, I hadn’t given ashtrays much thought until I read this. Thanks
Thanks. Another important downside to smoking while driving that neither article mentioned is reduced resale value.
Put the ashtrays back in cars!
How times do I see someone toss
A burning butt? Unfortunately,
too often. Too many drivers without
Common sense to remove the ashtrays!
Good idea-cut costs and let buyers make their own choices.Wanna talk about distractions, how about kids in the car!Not to mention audio systems, GPS, and fiddling around with that drive-thru piping hot coffee in the cup holder.(What a distraction when spilled in the lap!) Oh yeah, about that second hand smoke.Let’s be clear on what that “new car smell” is all about in four words,toxic carcinogenic off gassing.(see Vinyl chloride.com,for starters)Maybe it’s safest for all if we sit in metal seats on the public transportation?
Funny how they say cut costs, when they are adding back up cameras, gps, and other more expensive options as standard! I’m sure an air bag cost more than a ashtray or lighter.
So ashtrays on your door is more important than air bags along with the other items you mentioned. You got your priorities screwed up. They obviously cut prices by getting rid of something that has no meaningful use
Here in Canada we still have those options….not that i am a smoker but the ashtray keeps my change.
My 04 audi came with an ashtray and lighter standard
My 2010 Mercedes also came with both. I hate to say “nanny state” but we all know govmt knows what’s best for us. Won’t be long until we won’t be able to think for ourselves!
I’ve been saying the exact words for years.
It’s an infringement on my rights as an American to prohibit me from smoking in or on my own property. Bad move Arnold and shame on any state to follow in ca’ s footsteps.
So you have a right to smoke around someone who chooses not to fill their lungs up with smoke? Do you know a non smoker is just as likely to get cancer from a smoker? Duh wtf is wrong with you.? YOU DONT HAVE THE RIGHT TO PUT SOMEONES LIFE IN DANGER. That should be considered murder or attempted murder. PEOPLE DIE FROM CIGARETTES DUMMY
ray, white deer says
hmm, been smoking for 64 years, and when the kids were in the car, still smoke in my car and home. the kids are healthy and successful, i have no effect from my smoking and my wife doesn’t mind though she is a non smoker and she has no ill effects from the second hand smoke. but second hand alcohol? that has hospitalized me 4 times, once for 7 months. yeah, i said second hand alcohol. drunk drivers that most time shit and run if they can. also i never heard of families breaking up because someone smoked. how many families have broken up because of booze and drugs? it’s in the millions over the years.
I have to wonder about smoking in cars, having driven a work colleague’s – who was a smoker – car which overall smelt like an ashtray, or what a pub here in NZ was like prior to the public bar smoking ban here.
As for cars not catering for smokers, my 2005 Mitsubishi 380 (an Australian version of the 9th gen Mitsubishi Galant) does not have any ashtray, nor is there provision for them (apart from if a cupholder was used). There is no cigarette lighter, a 12v power outlet is used instead.
As an environmentalist, I lament the loss of ashtrays in cars because it encourages smokers to toss their butts out the window.
Cigarette filters are made from thousands of plastic fibers smushed together. This means that all the nasty chemicals in the cigarette get absorbed into the fibers, then leech into the ground and our water supply once they are discarded as litter. Fish and other wildlife eat these little tiny fibers unwittingly, and the chemicals get in to their systems- then we eat the fish. Yeah, ew. No. (The same problem occurs with plastic microbeads in facial scrubs. These tiny plastic fibers, whether they come from degrading plastic bags or cigarettes or what have you, are hard to filter out in water treatment plants. They resemble the food of small fish, which are eaten by larger fish, which are eaten by us.)
I’m an environmentalist myself and work in the Environmental Health field. Not only can the wildlife choke on these butts, but the butts that people toss out their windows are rinsed off the roads by each rain event through storm sewers then to creeks,streams and lakes where people (kids) swim. All those chemicals right into the waterways.
So what happens when people who put all their butts in their ashtray and dumps the whole ashtray in the street? Seen it many times.kal
Philip Seal says
Get rid of ashtrays, butts go out window, Fires start along the highways, chemicals put on cigarettes to make them go out. People think.
For every time a car is sold new or used that does not have a built in ash tray the government should asses a fee/tax of $50 to help pay for picking up the cigarette litter.
Still pointless if idiots dump their butt filled ashtrays in the street. It happens
I saw a classic Cadillac (1948) at the car repair shop. It had 6 (six) ashtrays, with lighters for each of them. And this car also had a full bar in what otherwise would have been a very large glove compartment. People who could afford those cars were expected to be smoking and sometimes also drinking. It must have been a more civilized time.
Now everyone gets Offended
once around the country trip without an ashtray. great trip. flicked hundreds of butts out the window, seems that fires followed us all the way up the California Coast. I wonder why? Socially acceptable to remove ashtrays for your health. hope its worth the pollution caused my forest fires. LOL
Shoul say, “caused BY forest fires”
What specific plastic were the car ashtrays made from
The car manufacturers decided that we need more people throwing cigarettes on the road at intersections.
If you think about it the insurance companies had something to do with it. If you smoked your rates were higher. So they took the ashtrays out because it was a distraction while you were driving.But they
Left the lighter plug there so you could keep your phone plugged in. Now ask your self! Which is the bigger distraction!!!!
I agree that cars should have ashtrays to avoid butts out the winsow
I still wonder why smokers think it is acceptable to litter with their butts. They should put something like a soda can in the cup holder to hold ashes and butts.
Very well said. I’m a smoker and removing ashtrays in cars hasn’t made me quite.
I’m 50 years old and can take care of my health and the choices associated with it. Not having ashtrays in car make smoker thow their butts out the window which is too me far worst because of wildfire and the environment.
Probably why there have been so may wildfires out west in the past few years.
bring back the ashtrays how the fuck else do you hide change lol
The fact that not every driver is a smoker makes it quite right to phase these stuff out. Thanks for sharing the post!
i love eating cellulose filters, and the cigarette itself.
Mel H says
I see SO many cigarette butts on the ground these days, including in parking lots. I live where it gets real windy, so those dropped butts probably were all dropped in the last 24 hours. The other day I saw someone in a car in a parking lot drop a butt out her window, and to me that’s not much different than dropping a candy or burger wrapper out the window. When she got out, I saw it was a store employee! I complained to store management and heard back that’s she’s going to buy a cigarette holder for her car. What is it with smokers that they think just dropping a butt on the ground is okay?!?!?
Especially if ya live where the salt has damaged a gas tank or line not such a good idea or even living in a state where gaskets have gone bad think it’s all flammable insurances will lose more customers then gaining especially if they pass no smoking for a driver
Not to mention people’s lives hello an lots of them not everyone can afford to be chauffeured around
Do what? says
What are you talking about? What does salt, gas tanks, bad gaskets have to do with ashtrays in a car???
ray, white deer says
gas leaks, someone throws a butt out the window and fire happens.
Darren H says
I like to think that car manufactures stopped putting ashtrays in cars because less people smoke now!
I’ve never been a smoker, but when I was kid, it seemed like most (or at least a lot of) people did smoke because ad agencies made it “cool”/mature to smoke. So after WWII, with so many smokers, it was almost a necessity to add ashtrays by the car makers. Now that the expensive, unhealthy, useless habit is no longer “cool” there isn’t enough smokers they have to appeal to.
I still wish cars had ashtrays, because us non-smokers still found uses for them and the remaining smokers still need them. Besides without ashtrays we’re expecting smokers to have enough pre-planning to bring with them, when they get in the car, something to put their ashes/butts in, but that takes common sense and if they had that, they wouldn’t be smoking in the first place.
ray, white deer says
as for me, i have an ashtray i put in the cup holder. thing is when i also bring my coffee, which is always, the 2 cup holders are taken and the wife has no place for her drink. my van has plenty of cup holders for us, but our suv, it doesn’t. tried to get a cup holder added to the extra space they have for cell phones, which we don’t have, but the manufacturer doesn’t have those add on options. if i had an ashtray which used to come with cars, we’d have room for our coffee or soft drinks.
Adrian Musters says
Need a place for smokers to put out their live butts or else they will do what they have to, that is throw them out the window. This has become the new standard way of dealing with them. This is garbage, literally.
I am a motorcyclist and have come in contact with live butts on many occasions. Not a comfortable feeling on many levels. Put them back in cars please as standard features.
Bill K says
The Genesis Sedan came with a hidden ash tray, until 2015. (I’ve never used mine)
People who throw their butts out the window, should be ticketed for littering (specially out west)
Manufactures need to put ashtrays back in their vehicles. I happen to be one of the persons who gets to pick them up off the mediums in the city of Kingsport Tennessee. It’s sad to see how many cigarette butts are out there!
I find it terribly amusing that smoking is a “distraction” therefore, no ashtray. Like so many others, our ashtrays were filled with coins and small bills for toll roads. Now, smokers are “distracted” by having to locate the receptacle in one of the cup holders. Those damned ashtrays, lol. Let’s just throw a computer screen up in the dashboard so that folks can take and make phone calls, talk to text and enter addresses for directions. Add to that the advertisements to learn a new language and get involved in a new audio novel while barrelling down the higway. It would be a shame to spend to your time behind the wheel actually paying attention to driving. No distractions involved with any of those and we now have 4 or 5 cubbyholes to rummage through, brilliant.