Workplace Smoking Prohibitions in California


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Quick Summary

No California employer shall knowingly or intentionally permit, and no person shall engage in, the smoking of tobacco products in an enclosed space at a place of employment.

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Complying With The Law

Post clear and prominent signs stating "No Smoking" at each entrance to buildings where smoking is prohibited throughout;

In buildings where smoking is permitted in designated areas, post a sign at the building entrances stating "Smoking is prohibited except in designated areas;"

Requestthat nonemployees smoking in prohibited areas refrain from doing so unless such a request would involve a risk of physical harm to the employer or any employee.

The law does not require that an employer have a written nonsmoking employment policy.

The law does not prevent an employer from prohibiting smoking in an enclosed place of employment for any reason.


Breakrooms are exempted from the smoking ban provided air from the room is exhausted directly to the outside by an exhaust fan and the rooms are in a nonwork area where employees are not required to be present as part of their work responsibilities - other than custodial or maintenance work when the room is unoccupied.

Where breakrooms are provided for smokers, there must also be a sufficient number of breakrooms to accommodate nonsmokers.

The law does not require employers to provide smoking areas or breakrooms for smokers, or to provide breakrooms for nonsmokers where they are not provided for smokers.

Workplace Exceptions

65% of the guest rooms of hotels, motels, and similar transient lodging;

Lobby areas of hotels, motels, and similar transient lodging designated for smoking (not to exceed 25% of the total lobby floor area or, if the lobby area is 2,000 square feet or less, not to exceed 50% of the total lobby floor area);

Meeting and banquet rooms except while food or beverage functions are taking place (including set-up, service, and clean-up activities or when the room is being used for exhibit activities);

Retail or wholesale tobacco shops and private smokers lounges;

Truck cabs or truck tractors, if no nonsmoking employees are present;

Warehouse facilities with more than 100,00 square feet of total floor space and 20 or fewer full-time employees working at the facility, but does not include any area within such a facility that is utilized as office space;

Theatrical production sites, if smoking is an integral part of the story;

Medical research or treatment sites, if smoking is integral to the research or treatment being conducted;

Private residences, except for homes licensed as family day care homes, during the hours of operation and in those areas where children are present;

Patient smoking areas in long-term health care facilities.

Breakrooms designated by employers for smoking, under specified conditions

In addition to workplaces specifically listed, any employer with five or fewer employees (full or part-time) may permit smoking where these requirements are met:

The smoking area is not accessible to minors.

All employees who enter the smoking area consent to permit smoking, and no one is required as part of their job to work in an area where smoking is permitted.

Air from the smoking area is exhausted directly outside.

No Longer Workplace Exceptions

Exceptions for gaming clubs, bars and taverns expired on January 1, 1998.

Limited Application of Local Laws

Labor Code Section 6404.6 supersedes any local laws, ordinances, and regulations with respect to smoking in enclosed places of employment.

However, the statute does not supersede local authority to regulate work environments exempted from the statute. The statute also does not prevent employers from enacting more restrictive smoking prohibitions in their workplaces.

More Information is Available with a Premium Subscription

  • Text of pertinent California statutes

  • Penalties and fines for each violation of the law

  • What an employer can do if a person refuses to stop smoking

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    If You Need to Retain and Pay a California Attorney Regarding This Issue:

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