National Trends

This U.S. map illustrates those states that support smoke free laws colored either blue, brown or yellow depending on the scope of their laws.

Smoke free laws vary among the states. This U.S. map illustrates those states that support smoke free laws colored either blue, brown or yellow depending on the scope of their laws.
Source: STATE System, Tobacco Control Interactive Maps, Legislation – Smokefree Indoor Air.

According to the Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation, 81.5 percent of Americans are covered by a state, commonwealth or local ban on smoking within workplaces and/or restaurants and/or bars and/or gambling venues. However, only 32.8 percent of the U.S. population is covered by a ban on smoking in all four.

Congress has not pursued a nationwide smoking ban in workplaces, but two federal policies cover indoor smoking:

  • President Clinton made federally owned or rented indoor spaces smoke-free by executive order in 1997.
  • In 1998 the U.S. Department of Transportation banned smoking on all commercial flights and in all U.S. carriers.

Many federal agencies are active in promoting smoke-free communities. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’s Healthy People 2020 objective for all 50 states to pass laws eliminating smoking in public places and worksites contributed to the increase in states with such laws, from zero in 2000 to 36 in 2011. The Office on Smoking and Health at the Centers for Disease Control makes eliminating exposure to secondhand smoke one its main goals. The Environmental Protection Agency runs a campaign for Smoke-Free Homes.

In 2009, Congress gave the Food and Drug Administration authority to regulate tobacco products for the first time with the passage of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. Also in 2009, the Department of Housing and Urban Development recommended that public housing authorities make multi-unit buildings smoke-free. The recommendation follows scientific evidence that smoke cannot be contained in single units, putting nonsmokers at risk in their own homes.

Many states and local governments have followed a similar trend:

  • In May 2011, New York City made all of its parks, plazas and beaches smoke-free, including Central Park, Times Square, and Coney Island.
  • Maine became the first state to ban smoking from all public housing units in January 2012.  Boston is set to become the largest city in the nation to do so in September 2012. 
  • In California, 23 municipalities have limited the distance from schools that tobacco retailers may operate.
     

Cited Works

American Nonsmokers' Rights Foundation. (2014). Overview list- How many smokefree laws?. Retrieved from http://www.no-smoke.org/pdf/mediaordlist.pdf.