State Smoke-Free Laws for Worksites, Restaurants, and Bars

Secondhand smoke (SHS) exposure causes lung cancer and cardiovascular and respiratory diseases in nonsmoking adults and children, resulting in an estimated 46,000 heart disease deaths and 3,400 lung cancer deaths among U.S. nonsmoking adults each year (1). Smoke-free laws that prohibit smoking in all indoor areas of a venue fully protect nonsmokers from involuntary exposure to SHS indoors (1). A Healthy People 2010 objective (27-13) called for enacting laws eliminating smoking in public places and worksites in all 50 states and the District of Columbia (DC); because this objective was not met by 2010, it was retained for Healthy People 2020 (renumbered as TU-13). To assess progress toward meeting this objective, CDC reviewed state laws restricting smoking in effect as of December 31, 2010. This report summarizes the changes in state smoking restrictions for private-sector worksites, restaurants, and bars that occurred from December 31, 2000 to December 31, 2010. The number of states (including DC) with laws that prohibit smoking in indoor areas of worksites, restaurants, and bars increased from zero in 2000 to 26 in 2010. However, regional disparities remain in policy adoption, with no southern state having adopted a smoke-free law that prohibits smoking in all three venues. The Healthy People 2020 target on this topic is achievable if current activity in smoke-free policy adoption is sustained nationally and intensified in certain regions, particularly the South.

This report focuses on laws that completely prohibit smoking in private-sector worksites, restaurants, and bars. These three venues were selected because they are a major source of SHS exposure for nonsmoking employees and the public (1). CDC considers a state smoke-free law to be comprehensive if it prohibits smoking in these three venues. Some states have enacted laws with less stringent smoking restrictions (e.g., provisions restricting smoking to designated areas or to separately ventilated areas); however, these laws are not effective in eliminating SHS exposure. The Surgeon General has concluded that the only way to fully protect nonsmokers from SHS exposure is to prohibit smoking in all indoor areas, and that separating smokers from nonsmokers, cleaning the air, and ventilating buildings cannot eliminate SHS exposure (1).

Data on state smoking restrictions for this report were obtained from CDC’s State Tobacco Activities Tracking and Evaluation (STATE) System database, which contains tobacco-related epidemiologic and economic data and information on state tobacco-related legislation.* State legislation is collected quarterly from an online legal research database of state laws and is analyzed, coded, and entered into the STATE System. The STATE System contains information on state tobacco-related laws, including smoke-free policies, in effect since the fourth quarter of 1995. In addition to information on state smoking restrictions in worksites, restaurants, and bars, the STATE System contains information on state smoking restrictions in other venues, including government worksites, commercial and home-based child care centers, multiunit housing, vehicles, hospitals, prisons, and hotels and motels.

The number of states with comprehensive smoke-free laws in effect increased from zero on December 31, 2000, to 26 states on December 31, 2010 (Table 1). In 2002, Delaware became the first state to implement a comprehensive smoke-free law, followed by New York in 2003, Massachusetts in 2004, and Rhode Island and Washington in 2005. In 2006, comprehensive smoke-free laws went into effect in Colorado, Hawaii, New Jersey, and Ohio, followed by Arizona, DC, Minnesota, and New Mexico in 2007; Illinois, Iowa, and Maryland in 2008; Maine, Montana, Nebraska, Oregon, Utah, and Vermont in 2009; and Kansas, Michigan, South Dakota, and Wisconsin in 2010. The years listed are the years in which the laws took effect; in some cases the laws were enacted in a preceding year. Some state laws were expanded gradually or phased in; in these cases, the year provided is the year when the law first applied to all three of the settings considered in this study. Additionally, while most of these laws were enacted through the state legislative process, Arizona, Ohio, South Dakota, and Washington enacted their laws through ballot measures.

As of December 31, 2010, in addition to the 26 states with comprehensive smoke-free laws, 10 states had enacted laws that prohibit smoking in one or two, but not all three, of the venues included in this study (Table 2). Additionally, eight states had passed less restrictive laws (e.g., laws allowing smoking in designated areas or areas with separate ventilation). Finally, seven states have no statewide smoking restrictions in place for private worksites, restaurants, or bars (Table 2). Of note, only three southern states (Florida, Louisiana, and North Carolina) have laws that prohibit smoking in any two of the three venues examined in this report, and no southern state has a comprehensive state smoke-free law in effect (Figure).

Reported by

M Tynan,* S Babb, MPH, A MacNeil, MPH, M Griffin, MPH, Office on Smoking and Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, CDC. *Corresponding contributor: Michael Tynan, CDC, 770-488-5286, [email protected]

TABLE 1. Effective dates of state comprehensive smoke-free laws — United States, 2002-2010
State Effective date
Delaware 12/1/2002
New York 7/24/2003
Massachusetts 7/5/2004
Rhode Island 3/1/2005
Washington 12/8/2005
New Jersey 4/15/2006
Colorado 7/1/2006
Hawaii 11/16/2006
Ohio 12/7/2006
District of Columbia 1/1/2007
Arizona 5/1/2007
New Mexico 6/15/2007
Minnesota 10/1/2007
Illinois 1/1/2008
Maryland 2/1/2008
Iowa 7/1/2008
Oregon 1/1/2009
Utah 1/1/2009
Nebraska 6/1/2009
Vermont 7/1/2009
Maine 9/11/2009
Montana 10/1/2009
Michigan 5/1/2010
Kansas 7/1/2010
Wisconsin 7/5/2010
South Dakota 11/10/2010
Source: State Tobacco Activities Tracking and Evaluation System, Office on Smoking and Health, CDC.
TABLE 2. State smoking restrictions for worksites, restaurants, and bars in 25 states that do not have a comprehensive smoke-free law — United States, December 31, 2010
State Smoking restriction by location
Worksites Restaurants Bars
Smoke-free in two locations
Florida Smoke-free Smoke-free
Louisiana Smoke-free Smoke-free
Nevada Smoke-free Smoke-free
North Carolina Smoke-free Smoke-free
Smoke-free in one location
Arkansas Smoke-free Designated§
Idaho Designated Smoke-free
New Hampshire Designated Smoke-free
North Dakota Smoke-free Designated
Pennsylvania Smoke-free Ventilated
Tennessee Smoke-free Designated§
Other restrictions
Alabama Designated
Alaska Designated
California Ventilated Ventilated Ventilated
Connecticut Ventilated Ventilated Ventilated
Georgia Designated Designated§ Designated§
Missouri Designated Designated Designated
Oklahoma Designated Ventilated
Virginia Ventilated Ventilated
No smoking restrictions
South Carolina
West Virginia
Source: State Tobacco Activities Tracking and Evaluation System, Office on Smoking and Health, CDC.

FIGURE. State smoke-free indoor air laws in effect for private worksites, restaurants, and bars — United States, December 31, 2010

smoke free states 2010

Source: State Tobacco Activities Tracking and Evaluation System, Office on Smoking and Health, CDC.

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