New Jersey passed the Smoke Free Air Act in 2006. The Act is part of New Jersey’s effort to eliminate tobacco use because it is a significant public health threat. The United States Surgeon General has declared that secondhand smoke is a serious health hazard that leads to premature death in children and non-smoking adults.
The Smoke Free Air Act serve an important public purpose: Banning smoking in indoor “workplaces” and “public access” places. The Act ensures that people have same smoke-free workplaces and citizens can breathe smoke-free air in public places. Almost every place outside the home is affected, except for registered cigar bars.
In New Jersey, smoking is banned in places such as offices, restaurants, factories, bowling alleys, stores, malls, hotels (twenty percent of the rooms may be used for smoking), and private clubs. It is banned outside grammar schools and high schools. Smoking is also prohibited in workplaces and within twenty-five feet of a workplace. A “workplace” includes any area where some type of service or labor is performed, regardless of how much time workers spend working. “Workplace” also includes locations were volunteer work is performed. The Act applies to smoke break areas outside of the building, including outdoor patios and decks that are attached to a building
Recently an amendment was passed which bans the use of an electronic smoking device (i.e., “e-cigarette”) in indoor public places and workplaces. New Jersey is the first state to pass the “e-cigarette” law.
Enforcement is generally accomplished through complaints by employees and the public, although local boards of health or the Department of Health & Senior Services can enforce the Act if they have reason to suspect violations.
The law makes a person who has control of an area responsible for ensuring that it is smoke-free. “No smoking” signs must be clearly posted. Any person “having control of an indoor public place or work place” has a responsibility to order a person who is observed smoking to stop. The person “having control” of an area is required to order the smoker to depart or remove the person from the premises. The Act empowers local police to assist with removal. Employers and other people may also file a complaint against a non-compliant business with the local health board or directly with the local police department. A first-time offender is subject to a monetary fine of not less than $250. A second offense carries a fine of not less than $500 and each subsequent offense carries a fine of at least $1,000.
If you have received a summons for a violation of the Act, we can help. Our attorneys are experienced in all aspects of employment law and municipal court matters. To learn more about what our experienced New Jersey municipal court attorneys can do to help, please visit our website, e-mail us, or call one of our lawyers at (973) 890-0004.