List of Workplace Areas Exempt from No-Smoking Laws Narrows

Published on May 11, 2016

California Governor, Edmund Brown, signed an amendment that added further restrictions regarding which workplaces are subject to California’s Smoking in the Workplace law (§ 6404.5) and the specific areas in the workplace covered by the law.

What Changed in California’s Smoking in the Workplace Law?

The amendment made key changes to the existing law:

  • Owner-Operator / Independent Contractors / Volunteers Covered: The amendment broadened the definition of what constitutes a place of employment. Now, in addition to traditional employers, the law applies to owner-operated business (even where the owner is the sole worker) or where the staff consists of independent contractors or volunteers.
  • Covered Parking Lots Added: The law focuses on enclosed places of employment, and the amendment now includes covered parking lots in addition lobbies, lounges, waiting areas, elevators, stairwells, and restrooms.
  • Guestroom Accommodations Narrowed: Now only 20 percent of a hotel/motel’s guestroom accommodations can permit smoking – reduced from 65 percent.
  • Hotel / Motel Lobbies, Meeting and Banquet Rooms Not Exempt: No longer will private detectives be able to smoke as they stalk their quarry in the lobby of the hotel while wearing a fedora and pretending to read the newspaper. And even when the wedding deejay has got the in-laws doing the chicken dance, guests and employees won’t be able to smoke in the banquet hall. Chickens can be smoked, but only in the culinary sense.
  • Warehouses Not Exempt: Gone are the days when the forklift operator can get a cool menthol fix while shelving pallets. Maybe forklifts will get a cup holder where the ashtray used to be.
  • Gaming Clubs, Bars, and Taverns Not Exempt: To maintain their poker faces, some gamblers will need to invest in nicotine patches. Bar- goers may want to keep old-fashioned pencils in their pocket protectors in case they need to chew on something to make it through Happy Hour without a smoke.
  • Break Rooms Not Exempt: No matter how powerful the exhaust system, no break room is exempt from the law.

Remember, the overall intent of California’s Smoking in the Workplace law is:

“…to prohibit the smoking of tobacco products in all (100 percent of) enclosed places of employment…”

Employers: it’s time to review your workplace no-smoking signage for your California locations. GovDocs clients can contact their Account Managers to update their coverage for California workplaces. We can assist you in getting any further signage that may be needed.

If you’re a smoker who is looking for an enclosed space where you can light up during business hours, you may want to consider becoming a truck driver. The law would exempt you, as long as you don’t get paired with a non-smoking assistant. Imagine smoking your cares away when you’re stuck in a traffic jam on the southbound 101.

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