Maintaining a healthy work environment can help boost your company’s productivity and overall employee satisfaction. One significant aspect of this is managing smoking practices within the workplace—especially if you’re located in a state with stringent smoking laws. Here’s what you need to know about creating your own employee smoking policy, and what it should include.

What is a Smoking Policy?

It’s a set of rules that a company creates to manage smoking practices within the workplace. This policy outlines where, when, and how employees may smoke while on company premises or during work hours.

The primary goals of a smoking policy are to ensure a healthy and safe work environment, comply with legal regulations, and respect the rights of both smokers and non-smokers—especially since accommodating repeated smoke breaks can lead to lost productivity and resentment from non-smokers.

By clearly defining the rules and expectations regarding smoking, you can minimize the health risks associated with smoking and secondhand smoke, while maintaining a respectful and pleasant workplace for everyone.

Does My Company Need One?

Every company, regardless of its size or industry, can benefit from having a smoking policy. The policy helps protect employees from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke, thereby promoting a healthier work environment.

It also ensures that your company complies with local, state, and federal regulations regarding smoking in the workplace. For instance, California’s Smoke-Free Workplace law (Labor Code Section 6404.5) prohibits smoking in most enclosed workplaces, while New York’s Clean Indoor Air Act bans smoking in virtually all indoor public areas and workplaces, including bars and restaurants.

A clear policy also helps balance the rights of smokers and non-smokers, fostering a respectful atmosphere where everyone’s needs are considered. By designating specific smoking areas and break times, a smoking policy can help manage productivity and minimize disruptions caused by unscheduled or extended breaks.

What Should Be Included?

Creating an effective policy involves addressing several key components to ensure it is comprehensive and enforceable:

  • Purpose and scope: Clearly state the rationale behind the policy, such as promoting health and safety, complying with legal requirements, and creating a pleasant work environment. Define who the policy applies to, which generally includes employees, contractors, visitors, and other individuals on company premises.
  • Definitions: Provide clear definitions of what constitutes smoking, including traditional cigarettes, cigars, pipes, and electronic smoking devices (e-cigarettes, vapes).
  • Smoking areas: Specify designated smoking areas where employees are permitted to smoke. These areas should be clearly marked and located away from entrances, exits, and common areas to minimize exposure to secondhand smoke. State that smoking is prohibited in all other areas, including offices, conference rooms, restrooms, and other indoor spaces.
  • Breaks and smoking: Outline the policy regarding smoking during work hours, including break times and locations. Ensure that smoking breaks comply with the company’s standard break policies and do not interfere with work responsibilities.
  • Legal compliance: Highlight the need to comply with local, state, and federal regulations regarding smoking. This includes adhering to smoking bans in public buildings and specific distance requirements from building entrances. If you have workplaces in different locations, be sure that each version of your handbook is compliant.
  • Responsibilities: Clarify the responsibilities of employees to adhere to the smoking policy and the role of supervisors in enforcing it. Encourage employees to report any violations of the policy to their supervisors or HR.
  • Consequences of violation: Detail the disciplinary actions for violating the smoking policy, which may include verbal warnings, written warnings, suspension, or termination, depending on the severity and frequency of the infractions.
  • Support for smoking cessation: You may also wish to provide information on resources available to employees who wish to quit smoking, such as smoking cessation programs, counseling services, and support groups.

Create Your Own Smoking Policy with SixFifty

Implementing a clear and comprehensive policy can help manage productivity, foster fairness, and enhance your company’s reputation as a responsible employer.

Create your own smoking policy with SixFifty. Schedule a demo today.