Smoker protection law

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Smoker protection laws in the United States

  State with smoker protection law
  State with non-specific laws protecting smokers

In the United States, smoker protection laws are state statutes that prevent employers from discriminating against employees for using tobacco products. Currently twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia have such laws. Although laws vary from state to state, employers are generally prohibited from either refusing to hire or firing an employee for using any type of tobacco product during non-working hours and off of the employer's property. In four states (California, Colorado, New York, and North Carolina) there is no specific law related to employee tobacco use but smokers are protected under broader state statutes that prohibit employers from discriminating against any employee who engages in a lawful activity. California also has a law that protects employees who engage in lawful activity, but it has been interpreted by the courts as not creating any new substantive rights but instead set forth a process to pursue claims for violation of existing Labor Code protections before the state Division of Labor Standards Enforcement.

Most of these laws were first enacted in the late 1980s and early 1990s. However, as discrimination against smokers in the workplace has become more widespread in recent years,[citation needed] several states[which?] have enacted such laws more recently.[citation needed] In states without smoker protection laws some employers have begun refusing to hire new employees who smoke.[citation needed] While many of these employers are using the honor system to enforce these policies, a few of them are requiring that employees be tested for nicotine.[citation needed] Many of the businesses with these policies are in the healthcare industry, but some county and municipal governments have also enacted such policies.[1] [2]

Arizona previously had a smoker protection law but it was repealed 2007.[citation needed]

States with smoker protection laws[edit]

State Year Code Notes
California 2005 CA LABOR CODE § 96(k) & 98.6 Not specific to tobacco use, covers all lawful activities but has been interpreted by the courts as not creating any new substantive rights
Colorado 1990 CO REV. STAT. ANN § 24-34-402.5 Not specific to tobacco use, covers all lawful activities
Connecticut 2003 CT GEN. STAT. ANN. § 31-40s
District of Columbia 1993 D.C. CODE ANN. § 7-1703.3
Illinois 1987 820 ILL. COMP. STAT. 55/5
Indiana 2006 IND. CODE §§ 22-5-4-1 et seq.
Kentucky 1994 KY REV. STAT. ANN. § 344.040
Louisiana 1991 LA REV. STAT. ANN. § 23:966
Maine 1991 ME REV. STAT. ANN. tit. 26, § 597[3]
Minnesota 1992 MINN. STAT. § 181.938
Mississippi 1994 MISS. CODE ANN. § 71-7-33
Missouri 1992 MO. REV. STAT. § 290.145
Montana 1993 MONT. CODE ANN. §§ 39-2-313 & 39-2-314
Nevada 1991 NEV. REV. STAT. § 613.333
New Hampshire 1991 N.H. REV. STAT. ANN. § 275:37-a
New Jersey 1991 N.J. STAT. ANN. §§ 34:6B-1 et seq.
New Mexico 1991 N.M. STAT. ANN. §§ 50-11-1 et seq.
New York 1992 [LABOR] LAW § 201-d Not specific to tobacco use, covers all lawful activities
North Carolina 1991 N.C. GEN. STAT. § 95-28.2 Not specific to tobacco use, covers all lawful activities
North Dakota 1993 N.D. CENT. CODE §§ 14-02.4-01 et seq.
Oklahoma 1991 OKLA. STAT. ANN. tit. 40, § 500
Oregon 1989 OR. REV. STAT. §§ 659A.315 & 659A.885
Rhode Island 2005 R.I. GEN. LAWS § 23-20.10-14
South Carolina 1991 S.C. CODE ANN. § 41-1-85
South Dakota 1991 S.D. CODIFIED LAWS § 60-4-11
Tennessee 1990 TENN. CODE ANN. § 50-1-304
Virginia 1989 VA. CODE ANN. § 2.2-2902
West Virginia 1992 W. VA. CODE § 21-3-19
Wisconsin 1991 WIS. STAT. §§ 111.31 et seq
Wyoming 1992 WYO. STAT. ANN. §§ 27-9-101 et seq.


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