California Expands Laws Prohibiting Workplace Smoking


All California Employers


June 9, 2016


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On May 4, 2016, Governor Brown signed a number of bills that impact employees’ ability to smoke. Going into effect in just one month, these bills will require employers to review their smoking policies and potentially make significant changes to workplace procedures.


New Restrictions to Smoking in the Workplace

California currently prohibits “smoking” of “tobacco products” in “enclosed spaces” at a place of employment.  However, new restrictions stated in Assembly Bill No. 7 (AB-7) will limit smoking even further:

  • An “owner-operated business” is prohibited from smoking in enclosed spaces; this refers to businesses where the owner-operator is the only employee.
  • The smoking prohibition in “enclosed spaces” now also includes covered parking lots.
  • Formerly exempted smoking areas are now prohibited: breakrooms designated by employers, warehouse facilities, gaming clubs, bars and taverns, and hotels, motels or other similar temporary lodging establishments (except that 20% of guestrooms can be offered as smoking rooms).
  • There is now no exemption for employers of any size.


Expanded Definitions of Smoking and Tobacco Products

Assembly Bill No. 5 (SB-5) defines “smoking” to include any electronic smoking device (e.g., e-cigarette or vaporizer pen) that creates aerosol or vapor or “any other lighted or heated tobacco or plant product intended for inhalation” (whether natural or synthetic), in addition to traditionally prohibited cigars, cigarettes, or pipes.

SB-5 similarly broadens the definition of “tobacco product” to include electronic devices that deliver nicotine or other vaporized liquids (e.g., e-cigarette or hookah), including the components and accessories of such devices.


Minimum Smoking Age Increased

Senate Bill No. 7 (SB-7) and SB-5 make it illegal for anyone to sell or otherwise provide tobacco products to anyone under the age of 21, except for active duty military personnel 18 years or older with appropriate military identification.


Action Items:

  1. Review the full text of the bills, listed on the Office of Governor website here.
  2. Contact ManagEase at (888) 230-3231 for assistance in adjusting handbooks and written policies to comply with the new laws.
  3. Re-designate any smoking break rooms as areas where smoking is no longer permitted.
  4. Train employees on the expanded definition of smoking, and indicate which areas on company premises are no longer permitted for smoking.

Disclaimer: This document is designed to provide general information and guidance concerning employment-related issues. It is presented with the understanding that ManagEase is not engaged in rendering any legal opinions. If a legal opinion is needed, please contact the services of your own legal adviser.

© 2016 ManagEase, Incorporated.

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