Pennsylvania Laws on Smoking in the Workplace

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

By , J.D. · UC Berkeley School of Law

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

Workplace smoking laws apply to all indoor workplaces.

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

Smoking is prohibited in all indoor workplaces. Smoking is permitted in outdoor areas, if employer permits. However, the employer is free to make the entire workspace smoke-free.

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

In Pennsylvania, smoking areas must have a "smoking permitted" sign.

How far away from a building do you have to be to smoke in Pennsylvania?

No state law addresses this specifically, although local laws might impose a minimum distance.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health recommends a distance of 20 feet, although this is not required by law. The Department of Health also recommends that the designated smoking area should not be located near building entrances, windows or openings, and should have containers for ash and cigarette disposal.

Does Pennsylvania require employers to make accommodations for nonsmokers?

Pennsylvania 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 Pennsylvania?

Pennsylvania 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 Pennsylvania, employers are generally free to adopt policies on smoking in the workplace if they choose to.

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

An employer may not discharge an employee, refuse to hire an applicant for employment, or retaliate against an employee because the individual exercises a right to a smoke-free environment.

Does Pennsylvania's workplace smoking law apply to vaping and e-cigarettes?

No, although Philadelphia and Alleghany County have ordinances that ban vaping and the use of e-cigarettes wherever smoking is prohibited. In addition, employers are free to implement their own policies banning vaping and e-cigarettes.

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

If you want to go right to the source and look up Pennsylvania 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 35 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. Sections 637.2 to 637.11.

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 Aaron Hotfelder (Nolo).

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