Smokefree Workplace Rules and Laws

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In 2014 to 2015, 80.2% of adults aged 18 years and older reported a smokefree work environment.

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Introduction

As of October 1, 2019, 36 states, along with the District of Columbia, and 5 U.S. territories have adopted comprehensive smokefree policies that include workplaces, restaurants, bars and state run-gambling establishments. There are an additional 1,085 cities and counties with laws that require non-hospitality workplaces, restaurants and bars to be smokefree. 

E-cigarettes (also known as vapes or Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems) are battery-powered devices that convert a liquid (“e-liquid”) into an aerosol. E-liquids typically contains nicotine, flavorings, vegetable glycerin, propylene glycol and other chemicals. Besides nicotine, e-cigarette aerosol may contain heavy metals, volatile organic compounds, and fine and ultrafine particles that can be inhaled deeply into the lungs by both users and by-standers. States and localities are increasingly incorporating prohibition of e-cigarette use into comprehensive smokefree air laws. As of January 2, 2020, 19 states, 929 municipalities, and three U.S. territories have prohibited the use of e-cigarettes in 100% smokefree locations.

Secondhand smoke (SHS) is a mixture of the side stream smoke released by a smoldering cigarette, pipe, hookah/waterpipe, or cigar, and the mainstream smoke exhaled by a smoker. SHS is a complex mixture containing thousands of chemicals, including formaldehyde, cyanide, carbon monoxide, ammonia, and nicotine. More than 250 of the chemicals in SHS are known to be harmful, and at least 69 are known to cause cancer.

Conclusive scientific evidence documents that SHS causes premature death and disease in children and adults who do not smoke. Exposure to SHS by adults has immediate adverse effects on the cardiovascular system, and long-term exposure to SHS causes coronary heart disease and lung cancer. Children exposed to SHS are at increased risk for sudden infant death syndrome, acute respiratory infections, middle ear disease, more severe asthma, respiratory symptoms, and slowed lung growth. 

There is no risk-free level of exposure to SHS, and only eliminating smoking in indoor spaces fully protects nonsmokers from exposure to SHS. Today, comprehensive smokefree laws, covering public places and workplaces, including restaurants and bars are increasingly the norm. Additionally, smokefree policies may now extend to private spaces, including cars and multi-unit housing.

Measure

The percentage of indoor workers reporting a smokefree work environment.

The percentage of the population protected by local and state smokefree indoor air laws covering workplaces, restaurants, and bars. This measure draws on data collected and analyzed by the Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation. Use of this information allows the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to include both local and state laws in its assessments.

Healthy People 2020 Target

  • Increase the proportion of persons covered by indoor worksite policies that prohibit smoking to 100 percent.
  • Increase the number of jurisdictions (states and Washington, D.C.) with smokefree indoor air laws that prohibit smoking in public places and worksites to 51.

Healthy People 2020 is a set of goals set forth by the Department of Health and Human Services.
Note: Goals are indicated as blue line on Detailed Trend Graphs.

Data Source

National Cancer Institute.  Tobacco Use Supplement to the Current Population Supplement for “work place smokefree policies” measures.

Americans for Nonsmokers Right Foundation. “Percentage of the population covered by local and/or state 100% smokefree air laws”.

Trends and Most Recent EstimatesHelp with navigating the graphs and data tables

Smokefree Workplace Rules

By Sex
Percentage of workers aged 18 years and older reporting a smokefree work environment by sex, 1992-2015
Overview Graph Detailed Trend Graphs Most Recent Estimates (2014 to 2015)
Percent of workers 95% Confidence Interval
Thumbnail of graph for Percentage of workers aged 18 years and older reporting a smokefree work environment by sex, 1992-2015 Both SexesClick to see the detailed trend graph for Both Sexes 80.2 79.7 - 80.6
MaleClick to see the detailed trend graph for Male 77.6 76.9 - 78.2
FemaleClick to see the detailed trend graph for Female 82.5 82.0 - 83.0
By Race/Ethnicity
Percentage of workers aged 18 years and older reporting a smokefree work environment by race/ethnicity, 1992-2015
Overview Graph Detailed Trend Graphs Most Recent Estimates (2014 to 2015)
Percent of workers 95% Confidence Interval
Thumbnail of graph for Percentage of workers aged 18 years and older reporting a smokefree work environment by race/ethnicity, 1992-2015 All RacesClick to see the detailed trend graph for All Races 80.2 79.7 - 80.6
Non-Hispanic WhiteClick to see the detailed trend graph for Non-Hispanic White 81.8 81.3 - 82.3
Non-Hispanic BlackClick to see the detailed trend graph for Non-Hispanic Black 78.5 77.0 - 79.9
HispanicClick to see the detailed trend graph for Hispanic 74.1 72.4 - 75.7
By Age
Percentage of workers aged 18 years and older reporting a smokefree work environment by age, 1992-2015
Overview Graph Detailed Trend Graphs Most Recent Estimates (2014 to 2015)
Percent of workers 95% Confidence Interval
Thumbnail of graph for Percentage of workers aged 18 years and older reporting a smokefree work environment by age, 1992-2015 Ages 18-24Click to see the detailed trend graph for Ages 18-24 75.1 73.5 - 76.7
Ages 25+Click to see the detailed trend graph for Ages 25+ 80.9 80.4 - 81.3
By Sex and Age
Percentage of workers aged 18 years and older reporting a smokefree work environment by sex and age, 1992-2015
Overview Graph Detailed Trend Graphs Most Recent Estimates (2014 to 2015)
Percent of workers 95% Confidence Interval
Thumbnail of graph for Percentage of workers aged 18 years and older reporting a smokefree work environment by sex and age, 1992-2015 Males, ages 18-24Click to see the detailed trend graph for Males, ages 18-24 72.0 69.7 - 74.2
Males, ages 25+Click to see the detailed trend graph for Males, ages 25+ 78.3 77.7 - 79.0
Females, ages 18-24Click to see the detailed trend graph for Females, ages 18-24 77.8 75.7 - 79.8
Females, ages 25+Click to see the detailed trend graph for Females, ages 25+ 83.2 82.7 - 83.7
By Poverty Income Level
Percentage of workers aged 18 years and older reporting a smokefree work environment by poverty income level, 1998-2015
Overview Graph Detailed Trend Graphs Most Recent Estimates (2014 to 2015)
Percent of workers 95% Confidence Interval
Thumbnail of graph for Percentage of workers aged 18 years and older reporting a smokefree work environment by poverty income level, 1998-2015 < 200% of the federal poverty levelClick to see the detailed trend graph for < 200% of the federal poverty level 74.8 73.7 - 75.9
>= 200% of the federal poverty levelClick to see the detailed trend graph for >= 200% of the federal poverty level 81.7 81.2 - 82.3
By Education Level
Percentage of workers aged 25 years and older reporting a smokefree work environment by highest level of education obtained, 1992-2015
Overview Graph Detailed Trend Graphs Most Recent Estimates (2014 to 2015)
Percent of workers 95% Confidence Interval
Thumbnail of graph for Percentage of workers aged 25 years and older reporting a smokefree work environment by highest level of education obtained, 1992-2015 Less than High SchoolClick to see the detailed trend graph for Less than High School 69.1 66.9 - 71.3
High SchoolClick to see the detailed trend graph for High School 76.4 75.4 - 77.4
Greater than High SchoolClick to see the detailed trend graph for Greater than High School 83.0 82.5 - 83.5

Indoor Air Laws

Percentage of population protected by local and state 100% smokefree indoor air laws, 1998-2018
Overview Graph Detailed Trend Graphs Most Recent Estimates (2018)
Percent of population 95% Confidence Interval
Thumbnail of graph for Percentage of population protected by local and state 100% smokefree indoor air laws, 1998-2018 WorkplacesClick to see the detailed trend graph for Workplaces 73.9 Not available
RestaurantsClick to see the detailed trend graph for Restaurants 77.6 Not available
BarsClick to see the detailed trend graph for Bars 66.2 Not available

Evidence-based Resources

The Cancer Control P.L.A.N.E.T. web portal contains tobacco control resources that support collaboration, identify evidence-based approaches, and list research-tested interventions. To identify high-risk populations and prioritize cancer control efforts, state and county-level tobacco data can be found on State Cancer Profiles.

Additional Information on Smokefree Workplace Rules and Laws

For the public

Scientific reports

Statistics

Year Range

1992-2015

Recent Summary Trend Year Range

2010-2015

Summary Tables

Secondhand Smoke

Recent Summary Trend

Non-Significant Change

Desired Direction

Rising