Massachusetts Smoke-Free Workplace Law and
Questions About Multi-Unit Businesses
The Smoke-Free Workplace Law, M.G.L. Ch. 270, §22, mandates that enclosed workplaces with one or more employees must be smoke-free. The state law’s intent is to protect workers in enclosed workplaces from secondhand smoke exposure. The full text of the law and additional information (including DPH Regulation 105.CMR 661.000) are available at www.mass.gov/dph/mtcp.
What does the law mean?
No smoking in common areas such as hallways, stairways, elevators, bathrooms etc.
No smoking in businesses with more than 1 employee.
No smoking in any business, even if there is only 1 employee, if the public enters the premises.
The definition of public includes customers and individuals such as delivery men or cleaning services. If anyone enters the business other than the sole employee smoking is not allowed.
Where is smoking permitted?
In general smoking is only permitted outdoors provided smoke does not migrate back in to the building. If the smoke migrates back in through a door or window this is considered a violation of the law. Smoking is also permitted in businesses that have only 1 employee and the public does not enter the business.
What can building owners do?
Building owners have the right to declare their entire building smoke free. Going smoke free may even reduce their costs like insurance or repairs.
What if there is a business that is allowed to smoke in my building?
1.) Document the problem.
Keep a log of days when secondhand smoke is a problem in your apartment.
Keep a log of communications with your landlord.
Record any and all health effects of the secondhand smoke.
Get documentation from your doctor for any existing conditions such as asthma, heart disease, allergies or others which may be aggravated by exposure to secondhand smoke.
Examine your lease or get your employer to do so.
2.) Have your employer speak with the smokers about the problem.
a. Be sure to cite health concerns and be specific about when and where the smoke is a problem.
b. If your neighbors do not respond, put your concerns into writing and put them on notice.
3.) Speak with your landlord about the problem.
a. Notify them of the problem, along with a copy of your lease with appropriate lease terms highlighted which may be violated by the smoke.
b. Remind them of the potential liability for failing to take reasonable steps to alleviate the problem.
c. Ask for reasonable repairs to be made to reduce secondhand smoke such as:
Fill in openings in floors and walls using tape, foam, or caulk;
Install pads and seals around electrical outlets and switches;
Waterproof doors and windows with weathering stripping;
Install fans and increase outside air.
Encourage them to voluntarily institute smoke-free rules.
Contact your local Board of Health.
While the smoke free workplace law may not apply to the situation it could fall under your town’s nuisance regulations.
What if people continue to smoke in the building in areas where smoking is not allowed?
This is a violation of the state law and you have the right to complain. Contact the Massachusetts Tobacco Control Program’s complaint line at either 1-800-992-1895 or at http://www.mass.gov/dph/mtcp/home.htm. From there the complaint will be forwarded to your local board of health.
For additional information contact the Massachusetts Department of Public Health 1-800-992-1895
TDD/TTY 617-624-5992 | www.mass.gov/dph/mtcp
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