Ask the Expert, EHS Administration

Ask the Expert: Outdoor Smoking Area Regulations

In our latest installment of Ask the Expert, brought to you by the team of industry experts at EHS Hero®, we look at a recent question from a subscriber asking about OSHA’s regulations for outdoor smoking areas. See what the experts had to say.  

Q: What are the OSHA regulations for designated outdoor smoking areas? Are there any other agencies/regs that protect the nonsmoker passerby?

OSHA does not specifically address tobacco smoke in its regulations, except in a situation in which employees are exposed to concentrations of a chemical compound found in tobacco smoke that exceed the permissible exposure limit (PEL) for that chemical. This would be a rare occurrence.

However, smoking in New Mexico workplaces is regulated by the state’s Dee Johnson Clean Indoor Air Act (NMSA 24-16). Under the Act, smoking is prohibited in indoor workplaces, indoor public places, buses, and other means of public transportation, with a few limited exceptions for certain types of establishments (e.g., private residences; retail tobacco stores; cigar bars; licensed casinos and gaming facilities; private clubs; tobacco manufacturers using their own products to market, distribute, or manufacture them; smoking-permitted hotel and motel rooms; sites used in connection with cultural or ceremonial activities by Native Americans; and theatrical stages or movie or television production sets when performers must smoke as part of the production). Smoking is also prohibited near entrances, windows and ventilation systems of all workplaces and facilities where indoor smoking is prohibited.

An individual who owns, manages, operates or otherwise controls the use of a premises subject to the provisions of the Dee Johnson Clean Indoor Air Act must establish a smoke-free area that extends a reasonable distance from any entrances, windows and ventilation systems to any enclosed areas where smoking is prohibited. The distance must be sufficient to ensure that persons entering or leaving the building or facility are not subjected to breathing secondhand smoke and to ensure that secondhand smoke does not enter the building or facility through entrances, windows, ventilation systems or any other means. In addition, employees or members of the general public must not be required to walk through a designated smoking area to gain entrance to an indoor workplace or indoor public place.

Local fire, police, and sheriff’s departments have jurisdiction over enforcement of the Act and may impose fines for violations.