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Workplace Smoking Rules in Rhode Island

Filed under Managing the Workplace. Fact checked on June 22, 2012.

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Employers in Rhode Island must comply with these state rules regulating smoking in the workplace.

Under the Public Health and Workplace Safety Act, smoking is prohibited in enclosed public places as well as in enclosed facilities within places of employment.

For purposes of this Act, place of employment means an area under the control of an employer that employees normally frequent during the course of employment.

Employers covered: The smoking in the workplace law is applicable to employers of one or more employees.

Written policy requirements: The written policy requirements are not specified.

Posting requirements: No smoking signs or the international no smoking symbol must be clearly and conspicuously posted in every public place and place of employment where smoking is prohibited, by the owner, operator, manager or other person in control of that place.

Every public place and place of employment where smoking is prohibited must have posted at every entrance a conspicuous sign clearly stating that smoking is prohibited.

All signs must be posted at eye level and contain the words: "It is illegal to smoke in this establishment." The required signs must also contain a phone number to report violations.

No smoking areas: Smoking is prohibited in all enclosed facilities within places of employment including:

  • common work areas
  • auditoriums
  • classrooms
  • conference and meeting rooms
  • private offices
  • elevators
  • hallways
  • medical facilities
  • cafeterias
  • employee lounges
  • stairs
  • restrooms
  • vehicles

Permitted smoking areas: Smoking is not prohibited in:

  • private homes, except when used as a licensed child care, adult day care or health care facility
  • hotel or motel rooms that are designated as smoking rooms, provided that not more than 50 percent of the rooms rented to guests are designated as smoking rooms
  • retail tobacco stores, provided that smoke from these stores does not infiltrate into areas where smoking is prohibited
  • private and semi-private rooms or designated areas in assisted living residences and nursing facilities
  • smoking bars
  • theatrical productions
  • certain outdoor areas of places of employment

An employer may provide an outdoor smoking space, but the area must be physically separated from the enclosed workplace to prevent the migration of smoke into the workplace.

Special rules apply to pari-mutuel facilities.

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