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Providing a Smoke-Free Work Environment in New Jersey

The Smoke-Free Air Act of 2006, a law enacted by the New Jersey legislature, prohibits smoking in any indoor public building, facility or place, as well as in the work environment. A business or individual who violates the law can be subject to hefty fines, from $250 for the first offense to $1,000 for the third and all subsequent infractions. Though the law covers building throughout the state, municipalities may enact their own ordinances with different or more restrictive provisions.

Accommodations Not Required for Smokers

The law does not mandate that employers make any accommodations for employees who smoke, either in the form of designated smoking areas, or permitted smoking breaks. The law is silent on whether employers must provide written or oral notice of a smoke-free environment, but does not prohibit the posting of such notices. An employer, however, cannot make decisions about hiring, firing, promotion or other work-related benefits based on whether or not a person smokes, unless doing so is tied to work-related tasks.

Exempt Facilities or Establishments

    The Smoke-Free Air Act provides for a number of specific exemptions:

  • Cigar bars or any type of lounge that makes 15% or more of its income from tobacco products
  • Tobacco retail stores
  • No more than 20% of the available guest rooms at a hotel or motel
  • Casino floors — The original version of the act banned smoking in casinos. That ban was entirely lifted by repeal of the provision, but the city council in Atlantic City has enacted an ordinance that limits smoking in the casinos there to 25% of the floor.

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