List of smoking bans in the United States

by Jenny Novac on June 30, 2011

The following is a list of smoking bans in the United States.

Smoking ban

The United States Congress has not attempted to enact any nationwide federal smoking ban.

As further detailed in this list, smoking laws vary widely throughout the United States. Some places in the United States do not generally regulate smoking at all, some ban smoking in certain areas and not others, and some ban smoking nearly everywhere, even in outdoor areas (no state bans smoking in all public outdoor areas, but some local jurisdictions do). As of April 1, 2011, according to the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation, 79.4% of the U.S. population lives under a ban on smoking in “workplaces, and/or restaurants, and/or bars, by either a state, commonwealth, or local law,”though only 47.9% live under bans in all workplaces and restaurants and bars.A smoking ban (either state, county, or local) has been enacted covering all bars and restaurants in each of the 60 most populated cities in the United States except these 17:

Arlington
TX
Atlanta
Fort Worth
Indianapolis
Jacksonville
Memphis
Miami
Las Vegas
Nashville
New Orleans
Oklahoma City
Philadelphia
Pittsburgh
San Antonio
Tampa
Tulsa
Virginia Beach

Statewide bans on smoking in all general public places

As of June 2011, 27 states have enacted statewide bans on smoking in all enclosed public places, including bars and restaurants:

Arizona
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delaware
Hawaii
Illinois
Iowa
Kansas
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Montana
Nebraska
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
Ohio
Oregon
Rhode Island
South Dakota
Utah
Vermont
Washington
Wisconsin

However, these states exempt a variety of places from their respective smoking bans. All except Delaware, Montana, Utah, Vermont, and Washington exempt tobacconists. All except Michigan and Vermont allow hotels and motels to designate a certain percentage of smoking rooms. Many also exempt or do not cover casinos, private clubs, cigar bars, or certain small workplaces.

In Connecticut, Oregon, Montana, Utah, and Wisconsin, the state law preempts local governments from enacting stricter smoking bans than the state, though some cities and/or counties in some of those states have enacted local versions of the state’s smoking ban. In the other 19 states with a statewide general smoking ban, some cities and/or counties have enacted stricter local smoking bans to varying degrees. The strictest smoking ban in the United States is in Calabasas, California, where smoking anywhere a non-smoker could congregate, including public sidewalks and apartment complexes, is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of at least $250.

Statewide smoking bans exempting bars

As of June 2011, 6 states ban smoking in most enclosed public places, but permit adult venues such as bars (and casinos, if applicable) to allow smoking if they choose: Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee. In Florida, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee, state law preempts local governments from enacting stricter smoking bans than the state, though in the other four states, some cities and/or counties have enacted stricter local smoking bans to varying degrees, in some cases banning it in all enclosed workplaces. See individual state listings below for details.

Unique statewide smoking bans

No smoking area

As of June 2011, six states have enacted smoking bans in particular places that do not fit in the other categories:

Georgia bans smoking in restaurants where persons under 18 years of age may enter, but allows most anywhere else either to designate smoking areas indoors or allow smoking freely; local governments in Georgia can and have passed stricter smoking bans than the state.

Idaho bans smoking in restaurants, but exempt both bars (which can be 100% smoking) and small workplaces (which can have a designated smoking area); local governments in Idaho can regulate smoking more strictly than the state.

Nevada generally bans smoking in all public places and places of employment, but exempts bars, casinos, strip clubs, brothels, and retail tobacco stores, and restaurants that do not allow patrons under 21 years of age. In all other restaurants, smoking is relegated to separately-ventilated designated smoking areas. Local governments in Nevada may regulate smoking more strictly than the state.

New Hampshire bans smoking in restaurants and bars (excluding private clubs), schools, and certain common areas open to the public, but not anywhere else, and state law prohibits local governments from enacting local smoking bans.

North Carolina bans smoking in all restaurants and bars (excluding cigar bars and private clubs), as well as government buildings and vehicles, but does not regulate smoking anywhere else. Local governments may regulate smoking more strictly than the state, except in cigar bars, private clubs, tobacco shops, private residences/vehicles, designated hotel/motel smoking rooms, and theatrical performances involving smoking.

In Virginia, smoking is banned in schools, state offices, and certain healthcare facilities and common areas, but not anywhere else; in restaurants (including bars), smoking is relegated to separately-ventilated designated smoking rooms. The state law prohibits local governments from regulating smoking more strictly than the state.

States with no statewide smoking ban

As of June 2011, 11 states have not enacted any general statewide ban on smoking in any non-government-owned spaces: Alabama, Alaska, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, West Virginia, and Wyoming. Instead, laws in most of these states (see individual state listings below for further information) require proprietors of certain places to designate smoking and non-smoking areas and post warning signage.

In Oklahoma, state law prohibits local governments from regulating smoking more strictly than the state, making it the only state without any kind of legislated smoking bans. In the other 10 states, cities and/or counties have enacted stricter smoking laws than the state, in some cases banning smoking in all enclosed workplaces. In Alabama, Indiana, and Mississippi, the state smoking law expressly allows all local governments to do so. In Kentucky, Missouri, South Carolina, and West Virginia, a court has ruled that certain local governments have the power to do so. See the individual state listings below for details.

Smoking laws and non-states

In the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands, smoking is banned in all enclosed public places, including bars and restaurants. Guam prohibits smoking in restaurants, but the ban doesn’t extend to workplaces, or any other businesses. The Northern Mariana Islands prohibits smoking in most workplaces and restaurants, but no ban on smoking covering bars.

Smoking bans and the U.S. federal government

Although Congress has not attempted to enact a general nationwide federal smoking ban in workplaces, several federal regulations do concern indoor smoking. Effective April 1998, smoking is banned by the United States Department of Transportation on all commercial passenger flights in the United States, and/or by American air carriers.This was long after Delta Air Lines had banned smoking on all of its flights. On August 9, 1997, President Bill Clinton issued Executive Order 13058, banning smoking in all interior spaces owned, rented, or leased by the Executive Branch of the Federal Government, as well as in any outdoor areas under executive branch control near air intake ducts.

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