ETS Exposure

This page last reviewed November 28, 2017

California Tobacco Laws that Reduce ETS Exposure

California has been referred to as "America's Non-Smoking Section." This reputation came about when California became the first state in the country to ban smoking in nearly every workplace; effectively banning smoking in indoor public spaces. California's workplace smoking prohibition was enacted by AB 13 and became law in 1995 (Labor Code 6404.5). Restaurants were included in the ban, and bars, taverns, and gaming clubs were phased in by 1998. The law covers all "enclosed" places of employment, therefore, patio or outdoor dining facilities may allow smoking. While California's law is one of the most restrictive in the nation, a number of exemptions are allowed (see below). Many local jurisdications, both county and state, have closed the exemptions through the enactment of local ordinances. In addition, gaming facilities not under the jurisdiction of the State (tribal casinos) are not required to comply, although many have chosen to do so voluntarily for the health of their employees and patrons.

Exemptions to California's Workplace Smoking Restriction
Hotels/Motels 65% of guest rooms
25%-50% of lobby space
meeting and banquet rooms, unless food and beverage functions are taking place
Tobacco Shops primary sales are tobacco, includes attached private smokers' lounges
Warehouse Facilities with more than 100,000 square feet of non-office space and less than 20 full-time employees
Long-Term Health Care patient smoking areas
Employee Break Rooms must be separately ventilated by an exhaust fan, located in a non-work area with sufficient non-smoking break rooms
Private Residences except those licensed as family day care homes during the hours of operation or when children are present
Small Business with five or fewer employees (full-or part-time), a number of other provisions are required (see regulation)
Miscellaneous cabs of trucks or tractors if non-smoking employees are not present; medical research with smoking integral to research or treatment; theatrical (or movie) stages when smoking is part of the story...

Nearly a decade earlier (1988), California citizens voted in Proposition 99, the California Tobacco Health Protection Act. Proposition 99 increased the cigarette tax by 25 cents per pack and funded one of the most successful statewide tobacco control programs in the nation. The California Department of Public Health's Tobacco Control Branch administers tobacco control programs in the State (smoking cessation, youth access regulations, etc.) through local lead agencies, usually municipal health departments.Nearly a decade earlier (1986), California banned smoking at all public school facilities, and prohibited smoking at licensed day care centers (1993). Smoking was also banned within 25 feet of outdoor playgrounds and sand boxes in 2003; smoking within 20 feet of the entryways and windows of public buildings has been prohibited since 2004. Some communities have enacted even stricter smoking bans: the city of Solana Beach banned smoking on its public beaches this year, becoming the first city to do so in the country. In addition, Pasadena has banned smoking at all public parks and golf courses.

In accordance with AB 1807, ETS was identified as a Toxic Air Contaminant on January 26, 2006. California then placed ETS on the Proposition 65 (Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986) list of chemicals known to cause reproductive toxicity.  New actions to reduce public exposure to ETS are being taken as a result of these new declarations and findings. The City of Calabasas banned smoking in all outdoor areas aside from designated "smoking outposts," and, the Dublin City Council passed a resolution declaring ETS a public nuisance. Taking into consideration a high concentration of elderly residents in nursing homes, the City of Belmont is considering a similar action. In addition, proposals for restricting smoking in parks and beaches, outdoor areas, hospitals, college campuses, and multi-unit housing facilities are currently being debated throughout the state. Solana Beach, San Diego, Orange County, and Monterey have instituted smoking bans on some of their public beaches.

Despite these recent efforts, ETS exposure is still a problem in California. Millions of Californians smoke, and millions are still exposed. This is particularly true in private residential environments and private cars.

Summary Information on California Smoking Laws:
Tobacco Laws Affecting California A guide to tobacco regulation in California

California Laws and Regulations Prohibiting Smoking:
Building Entryways This legislation prohibits smoking within 20 feet of main entrances, exits, and operable windows of all state, county, and city buildings, including University of California (UC), California State University (CSU) and California community college buildings. Assembly Bill No. 846, Chapter 342 California Government Code, Section 7596 to 7598 California Government Code, Section 19994.30 to 19994.33
Playgrounds and Tot Lots This bill bans smoking within playgrounds or tot lot sandbox areas. Assembly Bill No. 188 Chapter 150 California Health and Safety Code, Section 104495
Workplaces, Bars and Restaurants This bill prohibits smoking in indoor workplaces, including restaurants and bars. Assembly Bill No. 3037, Chapter 989 California Labor Code, Section 6404.5
Enclosed Workplaces This legislation prohibits smoking in enclosed workplaces. Assembly Bill No. 13 Chapter 989 California Labor Code, Section 6404.5
Day Care Facilities This bill prohibits smoking in day care facilities, including private residences. Assembly Bill No. 615 Chapter 335 California Health and Safety Code, Section 1596.795
Smoking in a Car with a Minor This bill prohibits smoking in a car (parked or moving) when a child (less than 18 years) is in the car. Senate Bill 7

Contact us if you have any questions regarding ARB's ETS program, or have suggestions or comments on this page.

Rober Krieger: (916) 323-1202