Adapted from information provided by the Massachusetts Dept. of Public Health (http://www.mass.gov/dph/mtcp)
The Massachusetts Smoke-free Workplace Law prohibits smoking in workplaces, including private offices, taxis, restaurants and bars in order to protect employees and the public from secondhand smoke.
Secondhand smoke, also known as environmental tobacco smoke (ETS), is the combination of smoke exhaled by a smoker and smoke from a burning cigarette, cigar or pipe. This combination is dangerous for both the smoker and the nonsmoker. Secondhand smoke contains a mixture of more than 4,000 chemicals, more than 50 of which are cancer-causing agents (carcinogens).
Exposure to secondhand smoke can lead to lung cancer and heart disease in non-smoking adults and to lower respiratory infections, asthma, ear infections, and sudden infant death syndrome in children. Secondhand tobacco smoke is especially harmful to pregnant women and to fetal development. Though they are not smokers themselves, an estimated 1,000 or more Massachusetts adults and children die each year from exposure to secondhand smoke.
The Massachusetts Smoke-free Workplace Law not only protects nonsmokers from involuntary exposure to the toxins in tobacco smoke, but may also have the added benefit of reducing tobacco consumption by smokers and increasing the number of smokers who quit.
Key provisions of the law include:
- The employer is responsible for providing a smoke-free environment for all employees working in an enclosed workplace.
- Smoking is prohibited in common work areas, hallways, conference and meeting rooms, offices, employee lounges, restrooms and staircases; auditoriums, theaters, concert halls and convention centers; museums, libraries, schools, colleges and classrooms; restaurants, bars, taverns, food courts and supermarkets; medical facilities, health facilities, child care centers, camps for school age children; public transportation such as trains, planes, taxis, buses, airports, train and bus stations, terminals and enclosed outdoor platforms; and public buildings owned by the commonwealth or a political subdivision, such as a city or town.