On November 7, Ohio voters overwhelmingly passed Issue 5, Ohio's first SmokeFree Workplace Act. Issue 5 creates a new chapter of Ohio Revised Code, Chapter 3794, and is known as the SmokeFree Workplace Act. It creates a statewide standard to protect workers and the public from the health hazards associated with exposure to secondhand smoke from tobacco.
Health experts have long known that smoking causes serious health problems. "The health effects of secondhand smoke exposure are more pervasive than we previously thought," said U.S. Surgeon Richard H. Carmona. Earlier this year, the Surgeon General's Report acknowledged secondhand smoke "as a serious health hazard that can lead to disease and premature death in children and nonsmoking adults".
The Surgeon General called for the protection of nonsmokers through the restriction of smoking in public places and workplaces. The Surgeon General's report confirmed that even brief exposure to secondhand smoke has immediate adverse effects on the cardiovascular system and increases risk for heart disease and lung cancer. There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke.
The SmokeFree Workplace Act goes into effect December 7, 2006 and will begin to protect Ohio and their families from workplace smoke exposure.
There are many questions about how the new law will affect restaurants, bars and business owners. How will these new laws be implemented and enforced? The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) is in the process of looking at these issues and has begun the process of creating the rules for the SmokeFree Workplace Act. In the meantime, the following information may help explain how the new law will affect Ohio residents and businesses.
Click here to read the text of the proposed SmokeFree Workplace Act (Ohio Revised Code 3794).
What is known so far:
- In accordance with state law, the Smoke-Free Workplace Act officially goes into effect on December 7, 2006 (30 days after the law passed).
- The Ohio Department of Health has established two toll-free lines.
- Toll-free enforcement line: 1-800-559-6446 This line should be used for all enforcement related questions after November 21, 2006 or to report violations after December 7, 2006.
- Toll-free information line: 1-866-634-7654
- This line should be used for general information concerning the law or non-enforcement related questions.
- The Warren County Combined Health District will work with the Ohio Department of Health and other supporting organizations to educate businesses and ensure that they have the correct information to comply with the law.
- Experience in smoke-free cities and states around the country shows that implementation and enforcement are straightforward. Compliance rates are high, and enforcement is not time-consuming. Ohio voters support and expect smoke-free public places.
What business owners can do now:
The SmokeFree Workplace Act will go into effect on December 7. Business owners will be expected to comply at that time. What should you do by December 7th:
- Read the law and become familiar with its requirements.
- Prohibit smoking in their business by employees and the public.
- Remove ashtrays and other smoking receptacles from non-smoking areas.
- Begin to educate your employees and customers on the changes.
- Post non-smoking signs at all public entrances. Follow this link for a pdf of an acceptable sign. High resolution and editable versions are available at www.odh.ohio.gov
The Warren County Combined Health District will work to provide further information about Ohio's SmokeFree Workplace Act as it becomes available. If you would like to receive updated information, please contact us and provide your name, business name (if applicable), mailing address, phone number and e-mail address.
Additional SmokeFree Information
- SmokeFreeOhio Fact Sheet on the U.S. Surgeon General's Report on Secondhand Smoke
- Secondhand Smoke: What It Means to You (A publication of the U.S. Surgeon General's office)
- Warning: Secondhand Smoke is Dangerous to Your Health
- The Accidental Smoker: How Much Smoke Do You Breathe in Common Situations?
- Ventilation and Separate Sections Don't Work
- Economic Impact of 100% Smoke-Free Workplace Laws
- Smoke-Free Workplace Laws Are Great for States
- Compliance and Enforcement of Clean Indoor Air Laws
- Frequently Asked Questions