More states are cracking down on smoking in the workplace, restaurants and bars next year.
Come 2010, laws banning indoor smoking will go into effect in Michigan, Wisconsin and North Carolina, bringing the total number of states with anti-smoking laws to 38. Of those, a large chunk — nearly three-quarters — ban smoking in the workplace in general, while the others target only bars and restaurants.
Unlike North Carolina, Michigan and Wisconsin have both enacted the broader prohibition on smoking in the workplace. North Carolina’s law goes into effect Jan. 2. Wisconsin’s law goes into effect July 5. Michigan’s law, which passed Dec. 10, will take effect May 1. (It’s still awaiting the signature of the governor, who has vowed to sign it.)
Michigan lawmakers included all workplaces in the ban because some businesses were still allowing smoking — either openly or in designated areas — thereby exposing employees to second-hand smoke. Now, even designated smoking areas will be banned.
Employment attorneys in Michigan are stressing to clients that the message of the new law — and others like it — is simple. “Anywhere indoors where people work, there can be no smoking,” said James Thelen, a partner in the Lansing office of Detroit’s Miller, Canfield, Paddock and Stone.
Miller Canfield put out a client alert about the new law this week, telling employers they are now required to do all of the following:
• Have clearly posted “no smoking” signs at both the entrance to and throughout the building.
• Remove all ashtrays and other smoking paraphernalia from work areas.
• Inform employees and other individuals, such as customers, vendors or contractors, that smoking is not permitted.
• Ask any employee or other individual who is smoking to stop smoking, and, if that person refuses, ask the person to leave.
Thelen also advises employers to make the no-smoking restrictions a part of company policy, even though the new law doesn’t require that step. This will put employees on notice that they can be disciplined — possibly even fired — for smoking at work.
Under the Michigan law, employees, not employers, will be fined for smoking violations: $100 for the first violation, and up to $500 for subsequent violations.
Tresa Baldas can be contacted at email@example.com.