To read this document, sign up for free access to our entire library

By joining the ChangeLab Solutions community, you'll get access to all our law & policy resources. And we'll notify you when we release a new tool related to your sector or area of interest.

Tobacco Shops & Smokers' Lounges

Exceptions to California's smokefree workplace act

Fact Sheet
Tobacco Prevention

California’s smokefree workplace law prohibits smoking in most places of employment — including bars, restaurants, and retail establishments.

Many establishments have attempted to work around the smokefree workplace law by building out smoker’s lounges in their stores or restaurants, which are illegal. Some businesses qualify as tobacco shops and smokers’ lounges for an exemption.

The most common types of business that operate under this exemption are cigar bars and hookah lounges, but it is not always obvious whether a particular business meets state criteria. Even when a business is exempt from the state smokefree workplace law, some communities may be concerned about the impact of these businesses.

ChangeLab Solutions developed this fact sheet, Tobacco Shops & Smokers’ Lounges, to help with determining when businesses qualify for an exemption in the state smokefree workplace law and when they don’t. The fact sheet also includes options for enforcing the existing smokefree workplace law and regulating exempt businesses locally by enacting smokefree air ordinances or tobacco retailer licensing ordinances.