No Smoking Primer

Kegler Brown E-mployment Alert

The November election brought a no-smoking ban to Ohio. The new law becomes effective December 7, 2006.

Under the law, the Ohio Department of Health is to prepare and issue rules to implement and enforce the statute. The rules are to be in place by June 7, 2007. In the meantime, and since the statute's prohibitions become effective early next month, the Department of Health has issued a guidance, advising employers how to comply in the interim period. (The guidance can be accessed at www.odh.state.oh.us/alerts/ohiosmokingban.aspx).

The guidance identifies three steps that employers should take in order to be in compliance by December 7:

  • Prohibit Smoking – Smoking is to be prohibited in any "public place" or "place of employment," as those terms are defined in the new statute. Smoking is also prohibited in the areas immediately adjacent to the entrances and exits to those places. This prohibition step can most easily be accomplished by a new work rule, a notice to employees, or other written notification.
  • Signs – All public places and places of employment must post "conspicuous" no-smoking signs at each entrance. The signs must contain certain prescribed information, and sample signs are included in the Health Department guidance.
  • Ashtrays – All ashtrays and smoking receptacles must be removed from the premises.

Depending upon the content of the formal rules to be published by the Department of Health, additional compliance steps may be necessary next year.

For those employers in the City of Columbus, and who have taken steps to comply with the City of Columbus "Smoke Free Indoor Act of 2004," your current policies should bring substantial compliance with the new state law. One difference, however, concerns the wording of the signs to be posted. Under the Columbus ordinance the signs must contain "a telephone number for reporting violations," which could be the Company's number; according to the Department of Health guidance, the signs should contain the Department's toll-free number and a reference to Chapter 3794 of the Revised Code.

Please contact us if you have any questions on the new law or the compliance requirements.