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Workplace Smoking Rules in Virginia

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

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

In Virginia smoking is prohibited or restricted in public places, including restaurants, with exceptions.

Employers covered: Employers with one or more employees.

Written policy requirements: Employer policy not specified.

Posting requirements: Persons in charge of a space subject to this law must post signs conspicuous to public view stating "Smoking Permitted" or "No Smoking."

The proprietor of any restaurant must post signs stating "No Smoking" or the international no smoking symbol, clearly and conspicuously in every restaurant where smoking is prohibited.

No smoking areas: Smoking is prohibited in most bars and restaurants with certain narrow exceptions for private clubs and restaurants with a designated smoking room that is physically separated and independently ventilated from nonsmoking dining areas. Proprietors may not require wait or bus staff to work in any area of the restaurant where smoking may be permitted.

Restaurants that choose to have a separated structure for smoking must ensure that at least one public entrance to the restaurant is in a smoke-free area.

Restaurants having a seating capacity of 50 or more persons must have a designated no-smoking area sufficient to meet customer demand.

The person in charge of an educational facility, except any public elementary, intermediate or secondary school, health care facility or a retail establishment of 15,000 square feet or more serving the public, including, but not limited to, department stores, grocery stores, drug stores, shoe stores and recreational facilities (any enclosed, indoor area used by the general public and used as a stadium, arena, skating rink, video game facility or senior citizen recreational facility) must designate a reasonable no-smoking area (reasonable considering the nature of the use and the size of the building).

Smoking is also prohibited in:

  • public elevators
  • public school buses
  • common areas in the interior of any public elementary, intermediate or secondary school, with certain exceptions
  • hospital emergency rooms
  • local and district health departments
  • polling rooms
  • indoor service and cashier lines
  • the interior of a child day care center that is not also used for residential purposes (in any area of the building utilized by the child day care center)
  • certain public restrooms

Permitted smoking areas: Smoking is prohibited in restaurants and restaurant restrooms, except that smoking may be permitted in any:

  • place or operation that prepares or stores food for distribution to persons of the same business operation or of a related business operation for service to the public
  • outdoor area of a restaurant, with or without roof covering
  • restaurants located on the premises of any manufacturer of tobacco products
  • portion of a restaurant that is used exclusively for private functions
  • portion of a restaurant that is constructed in such a manner that the area where smoking may be permitted is structurally separated from the portion of the restaurant where smoking is prohibited, there is a door to enter and exit, and is separately vented to prevent the recirculation of air from the area to the nonsmoking area
  • private club

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