As part of a public health initiative, the federal government is calling on all states to enact laws that prohibit smoking in all indoor business areas to protect workers’ health.
To assess where the U.S. is now on this goal, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reviewed state laws restricting smoking.
As of Dec. 31, 2010:
- 25 states and the District of Columbia have laws that prohibit smoking in businesses, restaurants and bars
- 10 states had laws that prohibit smoking in one or two, but not all three, of the categories (businesses, restaurants, bars)
- 8 states had less restrictive laws (allowing smoking in designated areas or areas with separate ventilation), and
- 7 states had no statewide smoking restrictions for businesses, restaurants or bars.
Delaware was the first state with a ban in all three categories in 2002. Michigan, Kansas, Wisconsin and South Dakota enacted comprehensive bans in 2010.
These states have no smoking restrictions: Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, West Virginia and Wyoming.
Why have the bans? Because in 2006, during the Bush administration, the Surgeon General reported that no level of exposure to secondhand smoke is risk-free, and the only way to eliminate involuntary exposure is to completely eliminate smoking in all indoor areas.
The CDC says even in the states with bans for businesses, bars and restaurants, protections for workers could be extended. For example, casino workers are heavily exposed to secondhand smoke on the job. New Jersey bans smoking in businesses, bars and restaurants, but allows smoking in designated areas in casinos.
What do you think? Should states ban smoking in all businesses? Or do you think if smoke in the workplace causes an employee problems, the person should find another job? Let us know what you think in the Comments Box below.