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Designated Smoking Areas

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It is getting more and more difficult to find a place to light up in the United States, and the workplace is no exception. There might be a state or local law to restrict smoking in your workplace, and even if there is not, there are many good reasons to disallow smoking in your business.

Where should I restrict smoking to in my business?

If smoking is restricted, management's most common response is to designate a spot for smoking: a specific break room, lobby or other specific part of the building. Even if a separate smoking area is provided, it may still mean that other workers are affected by smoke in the air.

Sidebar: The Environmental Protection Agency counsels employers to limit smoking to areas with separate ventilation or to ban smoking altogether.

Do I have to give my employees a smoking break?

Make sure employees know the timing of when they are permitted for a smoke break. Issues can arise at this point because workflow can be interrupted, and nonsmoking employees want to feel that they are receiving equally fair treatment in terms of smokers' breaks. The Fair Labor Standards Act can come into play in such a situation.

Do I have to identify smoking and nonsmoking areas?

There may be requirements to identify smoking and nonsmoking sections of the workplace, including the use of the international no smoking sign. States and local governments can also require that smoking policies be posted in common areas.