Smoking laws differ slightly around the world, however; the global trend, in developed nations, is to increase smoking restrictions, as more people realize the dangers of smoking and the dangers of being near smokers that are smoking (second-hand smoke).
The general trend is to ban smoking in public places. Frequently, smokers find themselves having to go outside or to a special smoking area. In some places, there is even a ” smoking in cars law.”
In many countries, smoking now seems like such an anti-social act that smokers feel a sense of guilt when they continue to harm themselves by smoking. One example of this is an enclosed smoking area found in some airports. To the non-smokers who pass by, and can observe the smokers through the glass, the smokers look like they are enclosed in kind of gas chamber, which no sane person would ever want to enter.
In this article, we summarize the smoking laws in Australia, the EU, the UK, and the US to make some caparisons between the different smoking laws around the globe. Smoking laws in other parts of the world, especially in the developing nations, has not yet reached a high standard.
Smoking Laws in Australia *
The information about the smoking laws in Australia comes from Tobacco in Australia.
In Australia, there are two levels of legislation, which are:
1. Laws of the Commonwealth – These are countrywide laws that apply to all parts of Australia.
2. Laws of the States and Territories – These are additional regulations that apply to certain parts of Australia.
Commonwealth Laws About Smoking
These laws fall into three categories that include the laws brought by three acts, which are:
1. The Air Navigation Act – This act made it illegal to allow smoking on any domestic air-flights since 1987 and, in 1996, extended this prohibition to prohibiting smoking on any international flights operated by airlines based in Australia.
2. The Interstate Road Transport Act – This act made it illegal, in 1986, to allow smoking on any buses when passengers are riding in the bus.
3. The Airport Act – This act that came into law during 1986, allowed the operator of airports to designate non-smoking areas. Originally, designated smoking areas were permissible within the airport terminals. These smoking areas now have almost completely disappeared because of the desires of the airport terminal owners. Now, most airport terminals are a 100% smoke-free environment inside the terminals.
Additionally, for those smoking outside of the terminal, they must move far away from the entry doorways and areas where the general public is waiting. This includes stopover areas for land-based transportation, such as buses or taxes, and in the areas designated for passenger pickup by private vehicles.
State and Territorial Laws About Smoking
There are additional smoking laws in the states and territories of the Australia Capital Territory (ACT), New South Wales, the Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, and Western Australia, which include:
- ACT – Smoking is banned in public places, outdoor eating and drinking places, and in automobiles if children under sixteen years of age are present.
- New South Wales – Smoking is illegal in public places, smoke-free areas, licensed premises (casinos), outdoor eating and drinking places, and other special outdoor areas, such as playgrounds, sporting arenas, and swimming pools. It is illegal to smoke in automobiles if children under sixteen years of age are present.
- Northern Territory – Smoking is prohibited in public places and in many designated smoke-free areas, such as the workplace, public transport, educational facilities, and outdoor public areas.
- Queensland – Smoking is banned almost everywhere, including public beaches and anywhere children (16 years-old or less) are present including in automobiles. The only places that allow smoking are designated outdoor smoking areas, which are rare.
- South Australia – Smoking is banned in any enclosed public area, at the workplace, in the public parts of hotels, and in vehicles when children under the age of 16 are present.
- Tasmania – Smoking is banned in public place, the workplace, outdoor areas of licensed premises, certain public outdoor areas, and when anyone under the age of 18 is in a vehicle.
- Victoria – Smoking is banned in all enclosed spaces, the workplace, certain public outdoor areas, and when anyone under the age of 18 is in a vehicle.
- Western Australia – Smoking is banned in enclosed public places including licensed premises, the workplace, outdoor areas for eating, certain public outdoor areas, and when anyone under the age of 17 is in a vehicle.
Smoking Laws in the EU *
The European Commission made it a mandate to have a smoke-free Europe by 2012.
All countries of the EU have smoking laws. The strictest laws are in Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary, Spain, and Malta. At the present time, of the 28 EU countries, 17 of them have extensive smoke-free laws. These 17 countries have a total ban on smoking while using public transport, in the workplace, and in enclosed public places. Very few exceptions for smoke-free places exist.
Smoking Laws in the UK *
In July 2007, legislation made it illegal to smoke in any enclosed public place, or such a public place that is substantially enclosed, and at work. The smoking ban includes public transport or in any vehicle used for work. Smoke-rooms at work are prohibited. Those wanting to take a smoke break have to go outside and be far away from any entry areas.
The smoke-free areas in the UK are extensive and need to have signs to designate the area as smoke-free. Fines for individuals convicted of smoking violations are up to £200. For facility owners, convicted of a smoking law violation, the fine is up to £2,500 per incident.
Since October 2015, the Children and Families Act made it illegal to smoke in any vehicle carrying children under the age of 18.
Exemptions to the Health Act of 2006 include private homes designated as smoking rooms in hotels, guesthouses, care homes, hospices, and prisons. If a room in a private home is also a workroom, such as a room for giving music lessons, that room must be smoke-free.
Sport stadiums are exempt, however; the owners of the stadium may implement a smoke-free policy. Bus stops are exempt, unless they are substantially (more than 50%) enclosed. Offshore oilrigs can have a smoking room. Specialist tobacco shops, such as those selling cigars, may have a smoking room with strict conditions.
Smoking Laws in the US *
The smoking regulations for federal facilities ban smoking in all federal buildings, with a very few exceptions.
Each state has their own smoking regulations that cover other places. Thirty states, plus Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, have smoking restrictions that include a 100% ban on smoking in restaurants and bars.
Four states ban smoking in bars and restaurants, except for designated and separated smoking areas, such as a separate outdoor patio.
Market Watch reported in February 2015 that there are 16 states, which still permit smoking in bars and/or restaurants. They are:
- The states of Florida Idaho, Indiana, and Louisiana have laws that make restaurants 100% smoke-free, but still allow smoking in bars.
- The states of Alaska, Nevada, Wyoming, Texas, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia, and Ohio, allow smoking in restaurants and bars.
There are many other differences between the states and cities in America regarding smoking laws.
The American Nonsmokers’ Right Foundation(ANR) provides a comprehensive list of the commonwealths, municipalities, and states in America that have 100% smoke-free laws in the workplace (excluding the hospitality industry), bars, and restaurants.
This list from ANRF, last updated on April 4, 2016, shows 30 states and 2 commonwealths that are 100% smoke-free. Moreover, over 540 municipalities have 100% smoke-free regulations. The list shows 35 states and 3 commonwealths where there are laws making restaurants smoke-free and over 470 cities with specific laws that ban smoking in restaurants. The list shows 28 states, 2 commonwealths, over 400 cities that specifically ban smoking in bars.
Here are a few examples of smoking laws by state:
California Smoking Laws
Health-conscious California has some of the most restrictive smoking laws in America.
The ANR notes that the California legislature passed Assembly Bill 13, which became law in January 1995. This law created 100% smoke-free environments in most workplaces, public places, and restaurants without bars. It 1998, this law expanded to include all restaurants and bars.
Owners of private facilities who violated this law faced fines of up to $5,000 per incident.
Since 2008, under the “Smoke-free Cars with Minors” law, it has been illegal in California to smoke in a vehicle, when any of the occupants are under 18-years old.
The Mercury News reported that new laws enacted in June 2016 closed many loopholes in AB 16 that allowed smoking in some places under exemptions. In addition, the legal age now required to buy cigarettes in California went up from 18 to 21-years old. Active duty military are exempt from this legislation.
The law also regulates e-cigarettes, which many in California see as a new way to deliver toxic and addictive nicotine, especially to younger users. In California, e-cigarette use is banned in all the same places as tobacco-cigarette smoking.
Those opposed to the sale of e-cigarettes note that there are hundreds of flavors that mimic candy. Flavors such as “gummy bear,” obviously target children. The law that restricts the sale of e-cigarettes to minors (under 21) came in response to the growing concern over the increase in e-cigarette use amongst middle school and high school students. This went from 4.5% in 2013 to 13.4% one year later, representing a tripling in the increase of e-cigarette use by minors during in a single year.
The Mercury News went on to report that anti-tobacco activists in California are working to place on the November 2016 ballot, a law adding $2 per pack as an additional cigarette tax.
Florida Smoking Laws
The smoking laws of Florida are part of the “Florida Clean Indoor Air Act,” which is section 386.202 of the state of Florida’s Statute.
U.S. Legal says that the Florida law bans smoking in the enclosed areas of the workplace except for tobacco sales shops, designated smoking guest rooms in the hospitality industry, and stand-alone bars.
Other exceptions that permit smoking in the indoor areas of the workplace are stop-smoking programs or those areas conducting scientific research. Airports may have smoking rooms that they designate, but only under the control of the U.S. Bureau of Customs and Border Protection of the United States Department of Homeland Security.
The Florida law prohibits anyone who is less than 18-years old to smoke tobacco at any school or within 1,000 feet of the school.
Citations issued for violations of the smoking laws in Florida are in amounts not less than $100 up to a maximum of $750 for the first offense. The average fine is $250. For any subsequent citations, the minimum fine is $500 and the maximum is $2,000.
Texas Smoking Laws
The Texas Department of State Health Services has a long list of state laws concerning tobacco use in Texas. The BLR gives a summary of what a person needs to know about smoking in Texas, which includes these rules:
- Schools – Students are prohibited from smoking at any school, on the school grounds, or at any school-sponsored activity. Adults, who are not students, may only smoke in designated smoking areas on the campus.
- Healthcare Facilities – Smoking is permissible only in designated areas.
- Childcare Facilities – It is illegal to smoke in any licensed childcare facility, at playgrounds, in vehicles used to transport children, or on field trips.
- Public Transportation – Smoking is banned on airplanes, buses, and trains.
- Public Places – Many counties and cities have banned smoking in all public places.
- Restaurants and Bars – The Chron reports that some Texas cities have banned smoking in both restaurants and bars. These cities include Abilene, Austin, Corpus Christi, Dallas, El Paso, Houston, and thirty others.
- E-cigarettes – Several counties and cities have banned e-cigarette use in the same way as tobacco-cigarette use. Although, the Chron also notes, Texas is one of the nine states that allow the sale of e-cigarettes to minors.
The global trend is to continue to put more restrictions on smoking. More importantly, significant legislation is coming into being that attempts to make smoking less attractive to younger people by substantially increasing the cost of the cigarettes with taxes, raising the legal age necessary to buy tobacco products, and restricting the sale of e-cigarettes to minors.