How California Led the Country to Ban Workplace Smoking


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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 public buildings, indoor work spaces 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 is one 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 day care 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, find out what your city is doing to protect you from every kind of secondhand smoke, visit

References renameme

  1. California Environmental Protection Agency. Proposed Identification of Environmental Tobacco Smoke as a Toxic Air Contaminant. Sacramento, CA: California Environmental Protection Agency, Air Resources Board, Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment. 2005.