Six years ago, only two states had laws prohibiting smoking in the workplace and other public spaces. Today, nearly half of all states have laws mandating smoke-free workplaces, with several new laws scheduled to go in effect in 2009. In addition, as of July 1, 2008, there are 2,883 municipalities with local ordinances that ban or restrict smoking in the workplace. The American Nonsmokers Rights Foundation has compiled a directory of States, Commonwealths, and Municipalities with 100% Smokefree Laws in Workplaces, Restaurants, or Bars (PDF) in effect as of July 1, 2008. They also produce a quick reference map of state laws.
If your state does not yet have a smoke-free workplace law, you might consider implementing your own policy. The Centers for Disease Control offer a Decision maker’s Guide to Making Your Workplace Smokefree. According to the American Lung Association, there are many good reasons to do so:
- A 2005 study estimated the total cost of secondhand smoke exposure in the United States at $10 billion annually, $5 billion in direct medical costs, and $5 billion in indirect costs such as lost productivity
- Workers have been awarded unemployment, disability and worker’s compensation benefits for illness and loss of work due to exposure to secondhand smoke
- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that $4 billion to $8 billion in building operations and maintenance costs would be saved if policies prohibiting smoking in workplaces were adopted nationwide
Sample policy statements
Here are a few resources for developing your organization’s policy.
The American Cancer Society: Model workplace policy
Americans for Nonsmokers Rights: Model Policy for a Smokefree Workplace
About.com’s Human Resources; Smoke Free Workplace Policy for Your Company
CDC: Resources, sample policies, and organizations with smoke-free workplaces (PDF)