Virginia Laws on Smoking in the Workplace

Information on Virginia workplace smoking laws, including accommodations for smokers and employer policies on smoking.

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What kinds of workplaces are subject to Virginia workplace smoking laws?

Workplace smoking laws apply to restaurants, educational, healthcare, and recreational facilities, and retail establishments of at least 15,000 square feet serving the public. For all other private workplaces, state law prohibits local ordinances that regulate smoking except that employer may, if allowed by local ordinance, regulate smoking if smoking and nonsmoking areas are designated by written agreement between employer and employees. An employer may also totally ban smoking if a majority of employees vote for it.

In Virginia, in what parts of the workplace is smoking prohibited? Where is smoking permitted?

In educational, healthcare, and recreational facilities, and retail establishments, an employer must designate reasonable no-smoking areas. For restaurants, smoking is prohibited throughout the entire establishment except in outdoor areas and areas that are structurally separate from no-smoking areas.

What are the requirements for designated smoking areas in Virginia workplaces?

In Virginia, smoking areas for restaurants must be must be structurally separate and separately vented from no-smoking area, and at least one public entrance to restaurant must be into a no-smoking area.

Does Virginia require employers to make accommodations for nonsmokers?

Virginia doesn’t specifically require employers to provide workplace accommodations for nonsmoker employees.

Are employers required to have a written or oral policy on workplace smoking in Virginia?

Virginia laws don’t address employer policies on smoking in the workplace. Local laws regulating smoking -- at the city, county, or town level -- may require employers to have a policy on smoking in some areas. And even though it’s not required by law in Virginia, employers are generally free to adopt policies on smoking in the workplace if they choose to.

Does Virginia provide employees with protection from smoking-related discrimination?

Virginia does not have a law protecting smokers from discrimination, nor does it have a law protecting employees from discipline or discharge based on their off-duty conduct generally.

Where can I find Virginia law information on smoking in the workplace?

If you want to go right to the source and look up Virginia law on workplace smoking laws -- or if you're writing a letter to your employer or employee and want to cite the applicable law -- the relevant statute(s) can be found at Va. Code Ann. Sections 15.2-2820 through 15.2-2833. Workplace smoking information is also available in Nolo's books Your Rights in the Workplace, by Barbara Repa (Nolo) and The Employer's Legal Handbook, by Fred Steingold (Nolo).

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