Connecticut laws/regulations;

OLR Research Report

June 9, 2003




By: Saul Spigel, Chief Analyst

You asked what businesses were affected by the statewide smoking ban enacted in PA 03-45, An Act Concerning Secondhand Smoke in Work Places, and when they must comply with its provisions.


PA 03-45 (as amended by sHB 5810) bans smoking in most workplaces where five or more people work, except in specially ventilated smoking rooms; inside restaurants and other establishments with liquor permits; and in state and municipal buildings, most health care institutions, and private college and university dorms. It allows smoking in outdoor areas of restaurants that do not serve alcohol and in outdoor areas of alcohol-serving establishments under certain conditions. It limits the number of guest rooms in hotels and motels where smoking is allowed. And it extends the existing ban on smoking in public areas of retail food stores to the entire store.

The ban takes effect on October 1, 2003 for workplaces, restaurants and most liquor permittees, public buildings and health care facilities, hotels and motels, private colleges, and food stores. It takes effect on April 1, 2004 for taverns, cafes, and bowling alleys. It affects only those private clubs whose liquor permits are issued after May 1, 2003.


The act prohibits smoking inside any restaurant and place that serves alcohol, except tobacco bars, under any of the following permits: restaurant; café; bar; club; tavern; bowling establishment; university; hotel; resort; juice; railroad; airline; coliseum or coliseum concession, special sporting facility; nonprofit theater or public museum; racquetball facility; or airport, airport restaurant, bar, concession, or airline club.

The act defines “restaurant” as space in a permanent building that is used and held out to the public as a place where meals are served regularly to the public.

The ban begins October 1, 2003, with the exception of cafes, taverns, and bowling alleys (the latter exception was made in sHB 5810, which passed on the last day of the legislative session) where it begins April 1, 2004.

The act unconditionally allows smoking outdoors at restaurants that do not serve alcohol. It allows smoking under the following conditions at any of the places with liquor permits:

1. the smoking area may not have a roof or other ceiling enclosure and

2. at least 75% of the seats in any area where food is served must be in a nonsmoking location clearly marked by a sign. This second condition does not apply to temporary seating areas established for special events.

The act extends to places that sell alcohol the existing requirement that restaurants and others post signs in all buildings and rooms where smoking is prohibited, but it exempts them from the lettering size requirements for these signs. Restaurants are already exempt. Smoking where prohibited and failure to post a sign are infractions.


Where Smoking is Prohibited

The act prohibits smoking in any business facility (a structurally enclosed location) in which five or more employees work, except in a designated smoking room. The act exempts from this prohibition (1) correctional facilities, (2) public housing projects, (3) private clubs whose liquor permit was issued on or before May 1, 2003, (4) areas where businesses that develop and test tobacco products do such work, (5) cafes, taverns, and bowling alleys until April 1, 2004, and (5) qualified tobacco bars. To qualify for the tobacco bar exemption, a business (1) must have a liquor permit and have generated at least 10% of its 2002 gross income from on-site sales of tobacco products or humidor rentals and (2) cannot have changed its size or location after December 31, 2002.

By law, any employer can designate an entire facility as a nonsmoking area.

Where Smoking is Permitted

The act allows employers with five or more employees to designate one or more smoking rooms in a facility. An employer that does this must provide sufficient nonsmoking break rooms for nonsmoking employees. The air in each smoking room must be exhausted directly to the outside by a fan; no air from the room can be recirculated to other parts of the facility. The employer must comply with any ventilation standard adopted by (1) the state labor commissioner, (2) the U.S. secretary of labor under the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), or (3) the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Under the act, an employer with a business facilities where fewer than five people work must establish a nonsmoking area if its employees ask it to do so. Under prior law, this ceiling applied to facilities with 20 or fewer employees. The act repeals the state labor commissioner's authority to exempt an employer from this requirement if he found that (1) the employer made a good faith effort to comply and (2) further compliance efforts would pose an unreasonable financial burden.


Public Buildings and Health Care Institutions

The act prohibits smoking anywhere in state or local government buildings and health care institutions (e.g., hospitals, nursing homes, community health care centers, residential care homes), except designated smoking areas in psychiatric facilities. Prior law prohibited smoking in government buildings and health care institutions other than psychiatric facilities, except in designated smoking areas.

The act extends to private colleges and universities the existing prohibition on smoking in public college and university dorm rooms.

The act continues to prohibit smoking in school buildings while school is in session or student activities are occurring and in passenger elevators. It extends this prohibition to private schools. (But the ban on smoking in government buildings would seem to prohibit smoking in public schools at any time.) And it continues to permit smoking in correctional facilities, public housing projects, and classrooms where smoking is demonstrated as part of a medical or scientific experiment or lesson.

Hotels, Motels, and Other Lodging Places

The act restricts smoking in hotels, motels, and other lodging places to no more than 25% of guest rooms. It requires these places to post signs in every nonsmoking room, but it exempts them from the existing lettering size requirements for these signs.