What Kind of Establishments Allow Indoor Smoking?

by LegalFix
Posted: May 17, 2022
smoking laws

As rates of tobacco and e-cigarette use decrease year by year, laws surrounding indoor smoking are changing. While some states have not enacted any bans on indoor smoking, others have strict laws that dictate where people are permitted to smoke.

The primary goal of these laws is to reduce the public’s exposure to secondhand tobacco and vape smoke. Furthermore, officials are working to implement laws that prohibit the use of flavored tobacco and vape products in an attempt to discourage the consumption of highly-addictive nicotine.

So, what does this all mean for the ability to legally smoke in public spaces? Let’s discuss why and how current laws are attempting to regulate tobacco and vape products, and which establishments allow indoor smoking.

Reducing Secondhand Smoke and Vape Exposure

Americans inhale less secondhand smoke than in decades past, but federal researchers have still noted a high amount of secondhand exposure among impoverished communities and black nonsmokers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released reports stating that about 58 million Americans, or 1 in 4 nonsmokers, are currently exposed to secondhand smoke.

Recently, reports are suggesting that vapor from electronic cigarettes also poses a risk to others. For instance, in 2022, the journal Thorax found that secondhand exposure to vapor increased teens’ risk of bronchitis symptoms by 40% and shortness of breath by 53%. Such studies have shown that vaping is not as safe as people initially thought.

Dr. Laura Crotty Alexander, the section chief of pulmonary critical care medicine with the VA San Diego Healthcare System, states that many people remain unaware of the health risks of vaping. “Some people still believe that vape contains water-based aerosols, and there’s no water in there at all. It’s pure chemicals, some very similar to antifreeze. Typically, about 50 to 100 chemicals are found in these e-cigarette aerosols, and your lungs don’t like it. It’s not healthy for your lungs. It damages the lungs and causes disease.”

To combat the negative health effects of secondhand smoke, many states have laws prohibiting indoor smoking in public places. And as it becomes evident that the effects of vaping are very similar, some states have also begun to impose laws that prohibit indoor vaping.

Are Flavored Tobacco Products Still Legal?

The 2020 National Youth Tobacco Survey released data stating that 58% of youth cigar smokers had used a flavored cigar in the past 30 days. Although overall rates of combustible tobacco products are the lowest they have ever been, officials in many jurisdictions continue to debate enacting a ban on flavored tobacco products.

Recently, the Biden administration has been considering the implementation of regulations and restrictions which discourage the use of nicotine at a federal level. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has released two draft standards that ban menthol and other flavored nicotine products. They believe that this will discourage younger generations from using nicotine products while making it easier for smokers to quit.

However, these proposals have significantly increased the tension between the FDA and tobacco manufacturers. Currently, the agency is working to finalize proposals, but they are concerned about tobacco products entering the black market.

Bryan Haynes, a partner with law firm Troutman Pepper, stated that the FDA “has authority to implement tobacco product standards based on a finding that those standards are appropriate for the protection of public health.” But there are limitations to the FDA’s power, and these proposed rules have yet to take effect on a national scale.

Is It Still Legal to Use Flavored E-Cigarettes?

While flavored tobacco products are under increased scrutiny, so are Puff Bars and other e-cigarettes. In particular, President Biden’s new bill aims to end the loophole that enabled Puff Bars to stay on the market, which is increasingly popular among teens in middle and high school. If this bill is passed, the company has 60 days to submit their products for FDA review or stop selling the products altogether.

What was the loophole in question? While companies like Juul continue to sell tobacco and menthol-flavored products, to avoid halting sales, Puff Bar and other e-cigarette companies opted to use synthetic nicotine rather than nicotine derived from tobacco.

Congressman Frank Pallone Jr. (D., N.J.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, released a statement in which he said, “Some bad actors have attempted to avoid FDA regulation by pivoting to using synthetic nicotine in their products. That ends with passage of this bill, which will close this loophole and clarify FDA’s authority to regulate all tobacco products, including those containing synthetic nicotine.”

Ultimately, the FDA’s mandate is intended to regulate vaping products so that manufacturers must prove they are supporting the interest of public health. As part of their considerations, the FDA must weigh the benefits of adult cigarette smokers switching to vaping against the harm that young people face by indulging in vapes as a gateway to nicotine addiction. Still, while some bans have been enacted at the state level, these restrictions have yet to be implemented at the federal level.

Which Establishments Still Allow Indoor Smoking?

Although secondhand smoke inhalation is on the decline, the CDC reports that only 29 states specifically prohibit smoking in bars, while 35 states prohibit smoking in restaurants. Similarly, 35 states have 100% smoke-free indoor air laws in regard to government and private worksites.

A smoke-free establishment is defined as prohibiting smoking inside, but each state has different laws regarding outdoor smoking. In some states, people are permitted to smoke as long as they are outdoors, whereas others only permit outdoor smoking in designated areas.

Are these laws effective? The American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation (ANRF) found that local and state laws regarding public smoking protect 65.2% of the population from secondhand smoke.

To find out the specifics of indoor and outdoor smoking laws in your state, you can check the ANRF’s smoke-free maps for more information.

Which Establishments Allow Indoor Vaping?

Given that vaping is relatively new, many laws surrounding where people can and cannot vape remain murky. Of course, people can vape within their own home unless a landlord specifically prohibits indoor vaping within the lease agreement.

Outside of the home, people are generally allowed to vape in places considered public land, including recreational areas, public streets, and other urban spaces. However, some places prohibit vaping on public transport because private companies own these spaces.

Unlike cigarettes, most states do not currently prohibit the use of vape products, so people are free to vape in enclosed public spaces, including nightclubs, restaurants, and bars.

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