Thursday, May 24, 2012

Ohio Supreme Court upholds statewide workplace smoking ban

On November 7, 2006, Ohio voters passed a ballot initiative to
enact the Smoke Free Workplace Act. It became effective on December 7, 2006, and is codified in R.C. Chapter 3794.

Generally, to adhere to the Act, businesses must do four things:

  • Prohibit smoking in any enclosed “public place” or “place of employment,” including areas immediately adjacent to locations of ingress or egress.
  • Post no-smoking signs—with the toll-free enforcement number, 1-866-559-OHIO (6446)—at all entrances or areas of transition between non-regulated and regulated areas.
  • Remove ashtrays and other tobacco receptacles.
  • Not discharge, refuse to hire, or in any manner retaliate against anyone for exercising any rights under the workplace smoking ban law.

Yesterday—in Wymsylo v. Bartec, Inc. [pdf]—the Ohio Supreme Court unanimously upheld the constitutionality of the Smoke Free Workplace Act.

If you have been dragging your feet in enforcing this law in your business, or have been hoping for a reprieve from the Ohio Supreme Court, you are out of luck. You need to ensure that your business complies with the Act and is smoke free.

In addition, whether you are in Ohio or another state, and your business is to be smoke-free, you should adopt a formal smoke-free policy, which includes formally designating where on your property employees are allowed to smoke (if allowed at all).