The Ohio Smoke Free Workplace Law
Ohio voters approved a smoking ban in November of 2006 which prohibits smoking in public places and places of employment. The ban provides a statewide minimum standard of protection from the health hazards associated with exposure to secondhand smoke.
Enforcement of the ban by the Ohio Department of Health became effective May 3, 2007. Many of Ohio’s local health departments have partnered with the Ohio Department of Health to help provide enforcement of the law and rules, and have been designated to enforce the Smoking Ban in certain areas of Ohio.
The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) has toll free numbers and email addresses to answer questions concerning enforcement of the law and the law itself. The toll free numbers are available during normal ODH business hours, Monday through Friday, 7:45 a.m.to 4:30 p.m. Messages can be left after business hours.
If you would like to report a violation, please call the ODH enforcement line at 1-866-559-OHIO (6446) or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you would like more information about the smoke free legislation that is non-enforcement related, please contact the ODH information line at 1-866-ODH (634)-7654 or email at email@example.com.
Additionally, you may call Lake County General Health District at 440-350-2543 to obtain more information about the law.
Frequently Asked Questions Concerning the Ohio Smoke Free Workplace Law
What are the main responsibilities of employers and proprietors?
1. Prohibit smoking in all public places and places of employment.
2. Remove all ash trays and other receptacles used for disposing of smoking.
3. Post conspicuous signs in every public place and place of employment where smoking is prohibited, including at each entrance. The law (ORC 3794.06) requires these signs to say No Smoking or have the international No Smoking symbol (consisting of a pictorial representation of a burning cigarette enclosed in a red circle with a red bar across it). The signs must be clearly legible and contain the toll free number for reporting violations, 866-559-OHIO (6446). This is the only number permitted on the sign.
4. Prohibit smoking in areas immediately adjacent to building entrances and exits.
5. Ensure that tobacco smoke does not enter any area in which smoking is prohibited through entrances, windows, ventilation systems, or other means.
What are the requirements for the No Smoking signs?
Posted No Smoking signs must:
Display No Smoking signs or the international No Smoking symbol (consisting of a pictorial representation of a burning cigarette enclosed in a red circle with a red bar across it)
Contain only the 866-559-OHIO (6446) telephone number for reporting violations
Be of sufficient size to be clearly legible to a person of normal vision throughout the areas they are intended to mark
Samples of acceptable signs may be downloaded from the ODH Tobacco Program Enforcement website. The ODH is not permitted to recommend a vendor.
How can I report a violation or get information about the law?
By phone: 1-866-559-OHIO (6446)
By e-mail: NoSmoke@odh.ohio.gov
For more information, visit the ODH Tobacco Program Enforcement page at www.odh.ohio.gov.
What are the hours of the Enforcement Line?
The ODH Smoking Ban Enforcement Line is staffed by a live person during the following business hours: 7:45 am-4:30 pm (Monday through Friday). During non-business hours, calls will go to voice mail and will be returned at their earliest convenience.
How can I get a copy of the law?
The law may be downloaded here.
How does the law define a public place?
A public place is any enclosed area to which the public is invited or permitted.
How does the law define a place of employment?
A place of employment is an enclosed area under the control of an employer that the employees use for work or any other purpose including but not limited to, offices, meeting rooms, sales, production and storage areas, restrooms, stairways, hallways, warehouses, garages, and vehicles. An enclosed area as described as a place of employment without regard to the time of day or the presence of employees.
How does the law define an enclosed area?
An enclosed area is an area having a roof or overhead covering and walls on no more than two sides.
Where can people smoke while at work or in public places?
According to the law, smoking is prohibited in public places or places of employment. Employers attempting to provide areas for smoking may provide an outdoor patio as defined in the law. If smoking is permitted outside the building, it cannot occur immediately adjacent to locations of ingress or egress. Additionally, the law also requires that a proprietor of a public place or place of employment shall ensure that tobacco smoke does not enter any area in which smoking is prohibited under this chapter through entrances, windows, ventilation systems, or other means.
Is there a minimum distance from doorways, windows and ventilation systems where outdoor smoking areas may be located?
The law does not specify a footage requirement. It simply states that the distance must be sufficient to prevent the migration of smoke back into the public place or place of employment. Columbus and other municipalities have used 20-25 feet as acceptable distances from doors and windows to prevent smoke migration indoors. It is possible that a footage requirement may be specified in the upcoming rules. However, until rules are actually in place, business owners will have to use their best judgment in determining the optimal outdoor locations for smoking. These determinations should consider the proximity of doors, windows, HVAC units to the prospective smoking area(s) in addition to the prevailing wind direction.
Is smoking allowed in private clubs?
Smoking is permitted in private clubs as defined by Ohio Revised Code 3794.03 provided ALL of the following conditions are met: (1) the club has no employees; (2) the club is organized as a not for profit entity; (3) only members of the club are present in the clubs building; (4) no persons under the age of 18 are present in the clubs building; (5) the club is located in a freestanding structure occupied solely by the club; (6) smoke from the club does not migrate into an enclosed area where smoking is prohibited under the provisions of this chapter; and, (7) if the club serves alcohol, it holds a valid D4 liquor permit.
How does the law define an employee?
An employee is defined as any individual who provides services to an employer for compensation or for NO compensation.