Smoke Free workplace
Employer Benefits of a Tobacco-Free Workplace
Helps promote a more positive public image, may eliminate disability claims based on secondhand smoke exposure, reduces potential legal liability, optimizes performance and productivity, lower turnover and the cost for recruitment and retraining due to death and disability, lower the risk of fires and fire property insurance premiums, reduce facility maintenance costs associated with the damages caused by cigarettes on carpets, furniture, walls and office equipment.
Employee Benefits of a Tobacco-Free Workplace
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 insurance.
All employers can choose to make the whole establishment smoke/vape free including their entire properties: employees have no right to smoke. Smoking areas are not required.
Connecticut Laws on Smoking in the Workplace
Effective 10/1/2021, all workplaces must be smoke and vape free. A summary of the Public Act is here.
Connecticut General Statute Section 31-40q states that 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 call 860-263-6790.
Additional Connecticut Tobacco Laws
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) ensures equal opportunity for persons with disabilities in employment. Title I of 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
ADA Enforcement: 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 again 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?
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:
- Distribute a list of local cessation programs or cessation services brochure
- Provide free self-help materials. The Connecticut Department of Public Health’s Tobacco Control Program has materials that can be provided.
- Share information with your employees about the Connecticut Quitline and the Become an EX campaign.
- 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 Workplace
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.
Tobacco Control Program: 860-509-8251
This page was last updated on October 20, 2021