Smoke Free Workplace
Employer Benefits of a Tobacco-Free Workplace2
Helps promote a more positive public image, may eliminate disability claims based on secondhand smoke exposure, reduces potential legal liability, optimizes performance and productivity4, lower turnover and the cost for recruitment and retraining due to death and disability, lower the risk of fires and fire property insurance premiums4, reduce facility maintenance costs associated with the damages caused by cigarettes on carpets, furniture, walls and office equipment4
Employee Benefits of a Tobacco-Free Workplace2
A tobacco-free workplace allows for a healthier, safer and more welcoming environment which promotes good morale, lower absenteeism due to SHS-caused illness and discomfort. Encourages those who smoke to try to quit, quitting can help lower the cost of health and life insurance3
All employers can choose to make the whole establishment smoke/vape free: employees have no right to smoke. Smoking areas are not required in any building.
Connecticut Laws on Smoking in the Workplace5
Under the Connecticut General Statute Section 19a-342, all buildings owned or leased and operated by the state or any political subdivision, health care institutions, restaurants, bars, bowling alleys, retail food stores, schools and elevators must be smoke-free.
Connecticut General Statute Section 31-40q, states that:
Employers with less than five employees must establish one or more work areas sufficient to accommodate any worker who requests to work in a non-smoking area.
- Signs shall be posted to designate non-smoking work areas.
- Signs must be prominently posted and maintained and removal is punishable by law.
- Physical barriers and ventilation systems shall be used to the extent practicable to minimize the effect of smoking in adjacent non-smoking areas.
- Employers with five or more employees must prohibit smoking in any business facility under their control, except the employer may designate one or more smoking rooms.
The employer must also provide sufficient non-smoking break rooms for their non-smoking employees. Each smoking room designated must meet the following requirements:
- Air from the smoking room shall be exhausted directly to the outside by an exhaust fan.
- No air shall be recirculated into any part of the building.
- The ventilation standard shall comply with the Occupational Safety and Health Act or the Federal Environmental Protection Agency.
- The smoking room shall be located in a non-work area where no employee is required to enter as part of their work duties.
- The smoking room is for employees only.
If an employee requests a non-smoking area and the employer does not comply, the employee can file a complaint with the Connecticut Department of Labor, Wage and Workplace Standards Division by calling 860-263-6790
Federal Laws on Smoking in the Workplace
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was formed to ensure employers provide a safe workplace to all employees, free of dangers. In Connecticut, the Department of Labor handles complaints regarding smoking in the workplace.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)6 ensures equal opportunity for persons with disabilities in employment. Title I of the ADA prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities in employment by businesses having 15 or more employees. People with a documented condition, such as impaired breathing due to asthma, may qualify as disabled under the ADA.
- An employer must provide reasonable accommodation to an employee with a disability.
- A smokefree policy would be considered a reasonable accommodation in this situation.
- Failure to make a reasonable accommodation constitutes a form of discrimination.
If an employee suffers from a serious medical condition caused or aggravated by tobacco smoke, and the employer has acted discriminately against the employee within the past six months (e.g. allowed smoking to continue), and the employee has talked to and written to the employer regarding their rights provided by the ADA, attempting to negotiate a resolution to no avail, then employment complaints against private employers may be filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission:
EEOC Boston Area Office
John F. Kennedy Federal Building
Government Center, Room 475
Boston, MA 02203
Additional information is available at eeoc.gov\
What about the workers who smoke?7
Adopting a smoke-free policy is not passing judgment on smokers and it does not mean workers who smoke are unwelcome. Providing cessation assistance to smokers who try to quit as a result of the policy can increase acceptance of the policy. It is also the best way to make sure that your business maximizes the potential health benefits and cost savings of this policy.
If you provide health insurance or health maintenance organization (HMO) coverage, check to see if your policy covers cessation services (including counseling and medication). If it does not, look into adding coverage for cessation services; this is the most cost-effective benefit you can offer your workers.
Other things you can do to increase smokers’ chances of quitting include:
- Provide free self-help materials.(The Connecticut Department of Public Health’s Tobacco Control Program has materials that can be provided.)
- Organize free onsite support groups. Offer free or reimbursed cessation programs onsite or through local providers.
The bottom line is, everyone wins with a Tobacco-Free Workplace4
Everyone benefits when the air is cleared of secondhand smoke - even smokers, some of whom will quit smoking or at least cut back. Workers become healthier, and healthier workers miss less work, are more productive, and have lower health care costs.
For more information regarding tobacco-free workplaces please refer to the clean indoor air section of this site.
Tobacco Control Program 860-509-8251
3 Estimating the cost of smoking employee
4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Save Lives, Save Money: Make Your Business Smoke-Free. Atlanta, Georgia: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, June 2006.