California was the first state to initiate any sort of state-wide ban or regulation of smoking. This Smoking Law was passed in 1994 and became fully effective in 1998. The reason for this smoking law becoming state-wide was to eliminate local governments from passing and enforcing their own smoking laws and therefore creating confusion among smokers. As a result, a uniform, state-wide regulation or ban on smoking became law. The second and probably the most important reason for this smoking law was to protect workers who had to work in enclosed workplaces.
The California Smoke-Free Workplace Law prohibits smoking in any enclosed workplace and no employer can allow smoking in such enclosed area by any one, employee or not. An employer that takes steps to inform a non-employee of the Smoking Law prohibiting smoking in his workplace is not liable for the non-employee’s smoking. These steps include posting no smoking signs in the enclosed area in question, with such sign placed strategically at each entrance into the workplace. If smoking is permitted elsewhere on the property, a sign stating “smoking is prohibited except in designated areas shall be placed at the entrance tot he property or building”. And the final step is if the employer has asked the non-employee to not smoke in the enclosed workplace.
Exemptions to this Smoking Law include hotels and motels that have designated 35% of their guest rooms and designated lobby areas, meeting and banquet rooms when no food is present, or if the room is being used for an exhibition. When smoking is not allowed in the meeting and banquet rooms, smoking will be allowed in the corridor or other areas in close proximity to the meeting and banquet rooms as long as no employee is stationed in that area. Tobacco stores and private smokers’ lounges are also exempt. Another exemption is if no nonsmokers are in the cab of a motortruck, the smokers can legally smoke in the truck. Warehouse facilities that measure more than 100,000 square feet and have less than 20 employees can also be exempt. Private residences where no day care business is located, are another exemption. Also, long-term facilities can designate smoking areas. Employers may designate breakrooms as long as the room has proper ventilation which will remove the smoke from the air and the breakroom is not located in the workplace where other workers will have to enter. Also, employers who have less than 6 employees have the authority to allow smoking as long as the designated area is not accessible to minors, all employees required to enter the designated smoking area gave consent to the area, exhaust fans move the air outside the designated area and proper ventilation is installed. But, under no circumstances are employers required to designate smoking breakrooms.