I saw someone smoking in a bar. Isn’t that illegal?

Photo credit: Patrick LaukeYes. California state law prohibits smoking in most indoor places of employment, including bars and taverns (Labor Code section 6404.5). A bar or tavern would not qualify for any exemptions in the smokefree workplace law. A business that serves food or beverages does not qualify under either the “retail or wholesale tobacco shop” or “private smokers’ lounge” exemption.

There are still exemptions in the state smokefree workplace law. As a result, smoking is permissible in the following places:

  • Private residences, except licensed family daycare homes
  • Cabs of motor trucks or truck tractors, only if nonsmoking employees are not present
  • Theatrical production sites, only if smoking is integral to the story
  • Medical research or treatment sites, only if smoking is part of research and treatment
  • Patient smoking areas in long-term health facilities
  • Retail or wholesale tobacco shops, which are business establishments that have the main purpose of selling tobacco products and smoking accessories
  • Private smokers’ lounges, which are enclosed areas in or attached to a retail or wholesale tobacco shop that are dedicated to the use of tobacco products

For more general information about the California smokefree workplace law, see our booklet, Tobacco Laws Affecting California, entry #1.

Photo credit: Patrick Lauke