The Smoke Free Workplace Act

Under the Smoke Free Workplace Act, smoking is prohibited in all public places and places of employment effective December 7, 2006. "Public places" are defined as enclosed areas where the public is invited or permitted including certain private residences when operated as a business; and "places of employment" are defined as enclosed areas, used by employees for any purpose, including, but not limited to: offices; meeting rooms; sales, production and storage areas; restrooms; stairways; hallways; warehouses; garages and vehicles without regard to the time of day or presence of any employees.

In addition to public places and places of employment, the law also applies to any area located immediately adjacent to places of entry and exit into a public place or place of employment including areas directly and indirectly under the control of a proprietor; any non-sleeping room in hotels, motels or other lodging facilities; and any place or area that the owner chooses to designate as non-smoking.

Under the new law, the Ohio Department of Health is charged with adopting rules and regulations within six months of the effective date of the new law. Such rules and regulations shall be designed to outline enforcement procedures; create a process for the anonymous reporting of violations; develop a method for contesting reported violations; establish a schedule of civil fines for violations; and develop procedures for investigating reported violations and assessing fines. First-time violations will result in written warnings, while monetary fines ranging from $100 to $2,500 may be imposed for subsequent violations. Upon request by the Director of Health, the court of common pleas may grant an injunction or restraining order against proprietors or individuals who repeatedly violate, or fail to comply with, the law.

Despite the new law, there are certain areas where smoking will still be permitted, including private residences not otherwise operated as businesses at any time; certain designated indoor smoking areas in nursing homes for use by residents only; freestanding structures occupied by certain family-owned and operated places of employment provided that all employees are related to the owner, the structure is not open to the public, and smoke from the structure does not travel into an area where smoking is otherwise prohibited; up to 20% of sleeping rooms designated as smoking rooms in hotels, motels or other lodging facilities; retail tobacco stores, subject to certain restrictions; certain outdoor patios provided that they are physically separated from enclosed areas where smoking is prohibited; and non-profit private clubs, subject to certain limitations.

In order to ensure compliance with the law, employers must prevent tobacco smoke from entering any area where smoking is prohibited; remove all ashtrays and other receptacles used for the disposal of smoking products from all places where smoking is prohibited; prominently display "No Smoking" signs in every public place and place of employment where smoking is prohibited, including all entrances. These signs are required to contain the telephone number for reporting violations. The new law provides that, wherever there is a conflict between the statewide Smoke Free Workplace Act and any applicable local smoking prohibition, the more restrictive of the prohibitions is to apply.


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Last updated 12-Nov-2015.