Overview of Laws
The United States does not have a federal anti-smoking law, but most of the states have enacted “clean indoor air laws" that forbid or regulate employees from smoking while at work. The first such law in the United States was the 1975 Minnesota Clean Indoor Air Act.
As of April 2011, twenty-seven U.S. states and American Samoa, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands have enacted blanket smoking bans in all general workplaces and public places, including bars and restaurants, but excluding tobacconists, cigar bars, casinos, private clubs, and/or small private workplaces. California, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Vermont have smoking laws that specifically target the workplace, protecting non-smoking employees from second-hand smoke regardless of their workplace.
The Vermont law, for instance bans smoking inside all enclosed workplace structures, and allows employers to provide smoking rooms only outside the structure. It recommends employers to post 100 percent smoke-free posters. The law encourages employees to complain if employers do not enforce the anti-smoke rules, and forbids retaliation for such complaints. The fine for non-compliance is $100 a day.
Georgia, Idaho, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, and Virginia have laws that ban smoking in specific places. Most such laws prohibit smoking in public workplaces such as hospitals and restaurants, but allow workers to smoke in private workplaces or in designated rooms or areas. Other states have no state laws that ban smoking in the workplace, but many cities and/or counties have enacted local smoking bans to varying degrees. The only exception is Oklahoma, which does not allow local governments to regulate smoking.
The cities and counties that enacted ordinances against smoking in the workplace do so under the ambit of local criminal and occupational safety and health laws. Forty-seven out of the sixty most populated cities in the United States have enforced some form of smoking ban in workplaces.
Most anti-smoking laws exempt private social functions, offices occupied exclusively by smokers, prisons and correctional or care institutions from the laws, leaving such institutions to adopt their own policies.
As of April 2011, almost half of the workforce have a total ban of smoking in the workforce, and another 30 percent have restrictions on smoking imposed by the state or county.