Tennessee Smoking Ban in Effect

A widespread workplace smoking ban went into effect in Tennessee on October 1, 2007. The Tennessee Non-Smoker Protection Act, also known as Public Chapter 410, was signed into law by Governor Bredesen on June 11, 2007.

Under the new law, smoking is prohibited in all enclosed public places including restaurants, retail stores and shopping malls.  There is no smoking in sports arenas, or in the enclosed public areas of outdoor arenas. Common areas of apartment buildings and other multiple-unit residential facilities such as condos must be smoke free, along with their lobbies, restrooms and reception areas.

All public and private schools must be smoke free under the new law.

A number of areas are exempt from the new Tennessee non-smoking law. These include private homes, and private motor vehicles. However, no smoking is allowed in any home that is a childcare or adult day care facility, or in any vehicle used by such businesses.

Smoking is permitted on open patios, porches and decks. It is also permitted in any enclosed workplace with “garage-type” doors, as long as all the doors are open.  Smoking is permitted under awnings, or in tents with removable sides or vents, as long as all the sides or vents are removed or open. However, smoke in any of these places must not infiltrate areas where smoking is prohibited.

Smoking is also permitted in any venue that restricts access at all times to people who are at least 21 years old.

Private businesses with up to 3 employees may permit smoking only in an enclosed room that is not accessible to the public, as long as that smoke does not infiltrate other areas of the workplace.

Smoking is never permitted in the lobbies and hallways of hotel or motels. These establishments may designate up to 25% of the rooms as smoking rooms.

Tobacco importers, wholesalers and manufactures can permit smoking in the workplace. So can retail tobacco stores that prohibit minors from entering. Smoking is also permitted in private clubs.

Nursing homes and long-term care facilities may permit smoking, at their discretion. Smoking is permitted in commercial vehicles when the vehicle is occupied only by the driver.

In order to comply with the new Tennessee smoking ban, employers must post “no smoking” signs such as the ones available at www. Laborlawcenter.com at every entrance to every workplace where smoking is prohibited. In addition, every employee and applicant must be informed that smoking is prohibited.

All employers, managers, owners, operators and employees must enforce the non-smoking ordinance.

Any person who smokes in a non-smoking area is subject to a civil penalty of $50. Any business that knowingly fails to comply is subject to a written warning from the Department of Health or the Department of Labor and Workforce Development for the first offense. The fine for a second violation is $100. Third and subsequent violations in a 12-month period will result in fines of $500 each. The Tennessee Department of Health and the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development enforce this law.

Currently more than half of the U.S. states have some type of smoking ban in effect statewide.  Two states, Idaho and Georgia, ban smoking in restaurants but permit it in other workplaces. Only one state, New Hampshire, bans smoking in all restaurants and bars but permits it in other workplaces.

According to Americans for Non-smokers Rights (ANR) at www.no-smoke.org, twenty-five states currently have no comprehensive smoking ban covering restaurants, bars and workplaces, on the state level. Many of these states do have smoking bans, but they exclude a key area. These states are: Alaska, Texas, Oregon, West Virginia, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia and Pennsylvania. Illinois currently belongs in that group, although a tough new smoking ban goes into effect on January 1, 2008.

Eleven states have what the ANR labels as a 100% smoking ban in place prohibiting smoking in restaurants, bars and the workplace. These states are Washington, California, Minnesota, Arizona, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Ohio and Hawaii. The term “100% smoking ban” here is a little misleading, since there are significant exceptions to the anti-smoking laws in each of these states.

The remaining states have a statewide smoking law but permit smoking in bars, or in restaurants, or in the workplace. These states include Nevada, Idaho, Utah, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Colorado, New Mexico, Louisiana, Florida, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and Connecticut.

By far the most common exceptions to this smoking ban are bars and casinos. Many states also permit smoking in designated sections of restaurants. A number of states outlaw smoking in all workplaces, and within 15 to 25 feet of the entrance to any workplace or public building.

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