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California Employers: Workplace Smoking Rules to Change Soon

(posted: May 9th, 2016)

Vaping & e-cigs at work


New California legislation will change some of the rules relating to smoking in the workplace, and raises the smoking age from 18 to 21, beginning June 9, 2016.

Governor Brown signed several bills on May4th that make major changes to the current smoking laws. In part, the new legislation will:

  • Treat the use of e-cigarettes and vaping devices that contain nicotine as "smoking", thus extending existing smoking bans to cover such products.
  • Expand smoke-free workplace protections by getting rid of most of the existing exemptions that permitted smoking in certain work environments, such as bars, hotel lobbies, warehouse facilities and employer-designated smoking break rooms.
  • Expand the workplace smoking ban to include owner-operated businesses.
  • Raise the minimum smoking age from 18 to 21, except for active military personnel.

Because these measures were enacted as part of a special session of the legislature, they generally take effect the 91st day after the special session's adjournment; that will be June 9th, in this case.

California is only the second state to raise the smoking age to 21, behind Hawaii.

What Do Employers in California Need To Do?

If they don't already, handbooks that do not mention e-cigarettes specifically should be revised to do so, treating them like any other tobacco product. The text should set forth restrictions on where tobacco can be used, such as not inside the building and at least 30 feet from an external door, and should clearly state that e-cigarettes and other tobacco products are covered under the smoking policy.

We are here to help! Contact Us with your questions or concerns about California's new smoking rules.

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