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8 Things That Will Probably Be Illegal in the Next 50 Years

Your everyday habits could land you a fine (or even jail time) in the future.

Gas pump nozzle in the fuel tank of a bronze car.Tonographer/Shutterstock

Gas-powered cars

As temperatures around the globe inch up, world leaders are cracking down on the second largest source of climate change: fossil fuels used in transportation, which account for more than half of a typical household’s carbon dioxide emissions. Countries including the United Kingdom, France, China, and India have promised to shift from gas- and diesel-powered cars to electric vehicles by 2050 (or earlier, depending on the country), rewarding owners of electric-powered vehicles in the meantime. At least eight states have made their own goals to sell only zero-emissions vehicles over the next 35 years, and the federal U.S. government could follow the trend. Check out these 50 things you won’t believe are already banned in the United States.

vehicle interior.VeronikaChe/Shutterstock

Driving a car

California recently agreed to allow manufacturers to test self-driving cars on public roads—a sign that we’re on track to have driverless cars transport humans by the 2030s, as some automakers expect. If those autonomous cars do succeed in eliminating human error (and car accidents along with it), there could be a push to get the more dangerous human-controlled vehicles off the road. “People may outlaw driving cars because it’s too dangerous,” Tesla CEO Elon Musk said during a 2015 tech conference. “You can’t have a person driving a 2-ton death machine.” Don’t miss these everyday things you didn’t realize are illegal.

Doctor injecting a young child with a vaccination or antibiotic in a small disposable hypodermic syringe, close up of the kids arm and needle.Gajus/Shutterstock

Refusing vaccinations for a child

As the “anti-vax” movement is gaining steam, so are the diseases those vaccinations hope to protect against with some parents citing false claims that vaccines cause autism have used religious beliefs to refuse the shots for their kids. Seven of the nine court cases over the right to refuse vaccination concluded that refusal was “medical neglect,” though five of those judgments were in states that didn’t have laws allowing refusal for religious or philosophical reasons. The cases that did side with the parents focused on the religious claims, not medical reasons. As pediatricians double down on sharing the evidence supporting vaccines, we might see policies change to bar parents from refusing vaccines, except in rare circumstances or if they can find a legitimate religious-based reason not to.

Hand hold Lightbulb Creativity or Thinking Innovation Creative conceptQuality Stock Arts/Shutterstock

Incandescent light bulbs

The Energy Independence and Security Act required traditional incandescent bulbs to become about 25 percent more efficient starting in 2012. Because most bulbs didn’t meet those standards, they were taken off the shelves, making room for energy-efficient CFL bulbs. In the future, those requirements could get even stricter to phase incandescent bulbs out entirely. Here are 18 more bizarre things that have been banned around the world.


About a dozen states have laws against impersonating a real person using their name or photos, but other states are starting to address “catfishing”— creating a new, fake online persona to entice someone into a relationship. Oklahoma paved the way with its Catfishing Liability Act of 2016, which makes it illegal to use someone else’s likeness for a fake identity, and Wisconsin is considering following suit. As more high-profile cases of catfishing come forward, more lawmakers could tighten identity laws. Learn about more of the dumbest laws in every state.

Supporting hands make heart sign and wave in front of a rainbow flag flying on the sidelines of a summer gay pride paradelazyllama/Shutterstock

LGBT discrimination

Courts in 44 states have decided that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964—which protects employees from sex-based discrimination, among other things—does not extend to sexual orientation, while just six hold that it does. None of those cases are binding, though, and the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission does include sexual orientation under Title VII. In 2015, the EEOC resolved 1,135 charges, resulting in about $3.3 million in relief for workers. As the group continues fighting cases, federal law might change to ban discrimination based on sexuality.

Solarium - tanning bed with closed lid and all lights onPiotr Mitelski/Shutterstock

Tanning beds for minors

Tanning beds are responsible for more than 419,000 cases of skin cancer in the United States every year, according to a study in the journal JAMA Dermatology. Most have age restrictions for minors using tanning beds, and new legislation is passed every year. Australia and Brazil have already banned the beds entirely, and it’s illegal for minors to use them in the United Kingdom. If lobbyists against skin cancer have their way, U.S. laws will follow suit. Don’t miss these other 25 funny and bizarre laws from other countries.

Chicken in cagepenphoto/Shutterstock

Caging hens for their eggs

At least 140 major companies—including McDonald’s, Walmart, Target, and General Mills—have promised to use only cage-free eggs by 2026, and laws could seal the deal for the businesses that haven’t made the switch. In December 2017, Massachusetts passed a law requiring eggs, pork, and veal sold in the state to come from animals that weren’t kept in cages, starting in 2022 (Here’s a shocking fact–puppy mills are still allowed in the U.S.). Thirteen states are suing over the right to produce (and sell) eggs and other animal products how they please, but the Supreme Court has yet to make a decision. But if the push for cage-free holds strong, animal rights supporters might have their way. Here are 12 foods you didn’t know were already illegal in the United States.

Marissa Laliberte
Marissa Laliberte-Simonian is a London-based associate editor with the global promotions team at WebMD’s and was previously a staff writer for Reader's Digest. Her work has also appeared in Business Insider, Parents magazine, CreakyJoints, and the Baltimore Sun. You can find her on Instagram @marissasimonian.

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