The Massachusetts Smoke-Free Workplace Law, also known as “An Act Improving Public Health in the Commonwealth” or Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 270, Section 22, was signed by Governor Romney on June 18, 2004 with an emergency preamble making it effective on July 5, 2004. The law prohibits smoking in public and private workplaces, with very limited exceptions.
Employer is defined as “an individual, person, partnership, association, corporation, trust, organization, school, college, university or other educational institution or other legal entity, whether public, quasi-public, private or non-profit which uses the services of 1 or more employees at 1 or more workplaces, at any 1 time, including the Commonwealth or its agencies, authorities or political subdivisions.”
Employers are responsible for providing a smoke-free environment for all employees working in an enclosed (bounded by walls, with or without windows, continuous from floor to ceiling and enclosed by 1 or more doors) workplace (an indoor area under the control of the employer where 1 or more employees perform service for compensation for the employer).
Smoking (“the lighting of a cigar, cigarette, pipe or other tobacco product or possessing a lighted cigar, cigarette pipe, or other tobacco or non-tobacco product designed to be combusted and inhaled”) is prohibited in workplaces, work spaces, common work areas, classrooms, conference and meeting rooms, offices, elevators, hallways, medical facilities, cafeterias, employee lounges, staircases, restrooms, enclosed outdoor platforms, restaurants, bars, supermarkets, theaters, auditoriums, schools, public transportation, public buildings, etc.
Designated smoking areas within a building are not permitted under the law unless one of the limited exemptions applies.
The following are exemptions where smoking may be permitted if certain conditions, exception details, and requirements are met (the full text of the law should be reviewed before deciding to permit smoking under an exemption):
- Private residences, except when the residence is being used to operate a group childcare center, school age day care center, school age day or overnight camp, a facility licensed by the office of child care services, or a health care related office;
- Membership Associations (Private Clubs), defined as non-profit voluntary groups, organized under Massachusetts general Laws, Chapter 180, while not open to either the public or non-members who are not invited guests;
- Guests rooms in hotels, motels, or similar accommodations that have been designated as “smoking” rooms;
- Retail tobacco stores that prohibit entry to anyone under the age of 18;
- “Smoking” bars that prohibit entry to anyone under the age of 18;
- By performers on stage or in film productions;
- Religious ceremonies where smoking is part of the ritual;
- Nursing homes that have received approval from the local board of health may have a designated smoking area for permanent residents only;
- Tobacco laboratories/tobacco testing facilities that conduct medical or scientific research on tobacco smoke;
- Tobacco industry workplaces where smoking is necessary to conduct quality assurance tests.
Smoking may be permitted in an outdoor area, which is open to the air at all times, cannot be enclosed by a wall or side covering, and is physically separated from an enclosed work space. If doors, windows, or other openings form any part of the border to the outdoor space, the openings must be closed to prevent migration of smoke into the enclosed work space. If smoke can migrate into the enclosed work space, smoking may not be permitted in the outdoor space.
Employers must also Post “No Smoking” signs in the workplace that are clearly visible to all employees, customers, or visitors. Approved signs may be obtained from the local board of health or the Massachusetts Department of Public health, or downloaded from the DPH website: http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/gov/departments/dph/programs/mtcp.
Employers may not discriminate or retaliate against a person, who makes a complaint of a violation or furnishes information concerning a violation of the law.
Owners, managers, or other persons in control of the building, vehicle, or vessel who permit smoking in violation of the law may be fined $100 for the first violation; $200 for a second violation occurring within two (2) years of the first offense; and $300 for a third or subsequent violation within two (2) years of the second violation. Each calendar day on which a violation occurs is considered a separate offense. A business’ license to operate may be revoked or suspended for repeated, egregious violations.
An individual who violates this law by smoking in a place where smoking is prohibited is subject to a $100 penalty for each violation.
If a violation occurs in a city or town that has an ordinance or by-law that imposes a greater penalty, the local by-law or ordinance will prevail over the state law.
The law is enforced by the local board of health, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, the local inspection department, a municipal government or its agent, and the alcoholic beverages control commission. Also, in Boston, the commissioner of health will enforce the law.
Corporations may be eligible to take a tax deduction for the amount paid for the prior purchase and installation of smoking accommodations. “Smoking accommodations” means any materials directly and necessarily used in the construction to install or modify a dedicated smoking area that is designed exclusively to reduce the presence of smoke within the building.