Smoking at work and individual “rights” can be viewed from two opposite perspectives, respectively. Those who do not smoke may believe that they are entitled to a smoke-free environment under federal law, but this is not the case. Smokers, on the other hand, may consider that they have a constitutionally protected right to smoke.
Which one is it this time around? When it comes to this situation, whose rights are the most important? The majority of the time, nonsmokers are victorious.
Non-smokers’ workplace safety is extremely important
A number of studies, as well as increased public awareness of the dangers of smoking and secondhand smoke, have motivated a number of jurisdictions to enact legislation regulating or prohibiting smoking in places of business. Contrary to popular belief, the manner in which these restrictions are implemented to smokers varies greatly from state to state in the United States. California, for example, prohibits smoking in the office entirely, whilst other states allow it only in specified areas or a set distance away from the workplace, depending on the state.
In the state of Florida, for example, smoking is prohibited in all enclosed indoor workplaces, including restaurants and bars (except private residences and bars). The use of tobacco products is either restricted or outlawed in certain public spaces, such as parks and playgrounds, in addition to workplaces. Other state laws, on the other hand, solely protect nonsmokers by enforcing smoking bans in both public and private places of business, regardless of whether the establishment is a public or private one.
There is a smoking area that has been designated
It is not uncommon for a legislation prohibiting smoking in the workplace to also include a clause allowing smoking in a designated location within the workplace. The California Department of Public Health requires that all businesses with five or more employees prohibit smoking in their break rooms if there aren’t enough non-smoking breakrooms available.
There may be several exceptions to the general rule that smoking is prohibited at work in most states, including the following:
- Workplaces that host private events on a regular basis
- Businesses in which the employer can demonstrate that complying with the law is both costly and physically taxing on the employees
- Because the courts have ruled against them, these laws and regulations will not be implemented in the future. Smoking bans in the workplace, on the other hand, have largely been upheld by courts, despite concerns that they infringe constitutional rights.
A small number of businesses have smoking restrictions that extend beyond the workplace and into the personal life of their employees. But for certain sorts of employees, such as firefighters and police officers, strong smoking limits or outright prohibitions may be permissible (though not always). Norris Injury Lawyers Florence AL can help speed up the process.