Smoking Pipes and Cigars in Public Places in the US: What You Need to Know

Public Health Authorities (PHAs) may limit tobacco use to designated smoking areas on public housing grounds or administrative office buildings to accommodate residents. The law prohibits smoking and vaping in almost all closed public and private workplaces, including restaurants and bars, to protect workers and the public from exposure to harmful second-hand tobacco smoke and vaping aerosols. Secondhand smoke is a mixture of smoke from the burning of tobacco products, such as cigarettes, cigars or pipes, and the smoke that a smoker exhales. It is one of the causes of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and in adults who don't smoke, it causes nearly 50,000 deaths from heart disease, stroke and lung cancer in the United States. To reduce exposure to secondhand smoke, PHAs must design and implement a policy that prohibits the use of prohibited tobacco products in all public housing units and indoor areas (including, but not limited to, hallways, administrative and rental offices, community centers, day care centers, laundry centers, and similar structures), as well as in outdoor areas less than 25 feet from public housing buildings and administrative offices.

This can be achieved by placing appropriate signage and implementing an outdoor anti-smoking policy for employees and the public. The Department of Health recommends that the designated smoking area be located in an area away from building entrances, windows, or openings, and that it has adequate containers for disposing of ashes and cigarettes. Localities can continue to adopt and enforce local laws that regulate smoking and vaping; however, these regulations must be at least as stringent as the Act. Both the jail and the administrative offices are workplaces and, as such, must be smoke-free in each and every indoor area. While senators never smoked in the chamber during public sessions, they happily took out their cigars every time the Senate held an executive session to consider nominations and treaties. Smoking and vaping are allowed in restaurants, bars, hotel and motel conference rooms, conference rooms, convention rooms and other similar establishments ONLY when closed areas are used for the sole purpose of inviting the public to try tobacco products or electronic cigarettes and serving food and drink is incidental to that purpose.

A tobacco store is defined as a commercial establishment whose sales of tobacco and tobacco related products, including cigars, pipe tobacco and smoking accessories, are equivalent to or greater than fifty percent (50%) of annual gross sales (for the calendar year). This legislation (known as “Tobacco 21” or “T21”) took effect immediately and it is now illegal for a retailer to sell any tobacco product, including cigarettes, cigars and e-cigarettes, to people under 21 years of age. Below are some frequently asked questions to help retailers, consumers, and state and local law enforcement agencies understand the new law. It is important for everyone to be aware of their local laws regarding smoking pipes or cigars in public places. Understanding these laws can help ensure that everyone is following them properly.