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Death & Disease

How California led the country to ban workplace smoking

Published Apr 11, 2022
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Everyone has the right to a workplace that’s free of dangerous toxic chemicals and smoke. While this idea seems simple now, it was revolutionary in 1995 when California became the first state to ban smoking in the workplace, including in public buildings, indoor workspaces, and restaurants. Three years later in 1998, that ban extended to include bars, taverns, and gaming clubs – most workplaces across the state.

California smokefree laws have eliminated most secondhand smoke exposure in the workplace, making it safer for employees and customers to do business. In addition, California law expanded the types of smoking products banned from use in workplaces, including e-cigarettes, cigars, cigarillos, hookah, and marijuana.

California’s clean indoor air protections are some of the best in the nation. However, 1 in 8 adults are exposed to secondhand vape at work,1 and secondhand smoke from cigarettes still causes the death of more than 4,000 Californians each year,2 in part due to the following places or circumstances that are still allowed to permit smoking:

  • Cabs of motor trucks or truck tractors, if no nonsmoking employees are present.
  • Health care facilities – patient smoking areas of long-term health care facilities.
  • Twenty percent of hotel/motel guest rooms.
  • Tobacco shops and private smokers’ lounges that meet specific criteria.
  • Theatrical productions if smoking is an integral part of the story.
  • Medical research and treatment sites if smoking is integral to the research or treatment.
  • Private residences, except those licensed as family daycare homes where smoking is prohibited.

View a complete list of the places where tobacco products are prohibited, and where they’re not.

Learn more about the California Smoke-Free Workplace Laws and help eliminate smoking in all workplaces, for every Californian. Clean air starts with you. To find out what your city is doing to protect you from every kind of secondhand smoke, visit undo.org/secondhand-dangers.

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Hold the industry accountable

California has already protected people from other harmful products, and it's time to hold the tobacco industry to the same standards.