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Alaska Smokefree Workplace Law  

Alaska's Smokefree Workplace Law


Frequently Asked Questions


General:

Alaska's Smokefree Workplace Law: All indoor workplaces must be smokefree beginning 10/1/18 

Q: What is the Smokefree Alaska Law?
A:
The Smokefree Alaska Law (AS 18.35.300 – 18.35.399) is a state law that prohibits smoking and vaping in workplaces and public places, protecting the health of all Alaska workers, residents and visitors. The Alaska Legislature passed the law during the 2017-2018 regular legislative session, with an effective date of October 1, 2018.

Smoking and vaping devices include e-cigarettes, vape pens/personal vaporizers and e-hookah, whether or not the device contains nicotine.

Q: Why do we need a smokefree workplace law?
A:
The Smokefree Alaska Law protects the health of all Alaskans by reducing exposure to secondhand smoke. Nonsmokers who are exposed to secondhand smoke at work are more likely to develop heart disease, lung cancer or other diseases.

Q: Where is smoking and vaping not allowed indoors?
A:
Under the Smokefree Alaska Law, smoking and vaping is not allowed in the following:

  • All places of employment including vehicles
  • Office buildings and offices
  • Hotels and motels
  • Restaurants and bars
  • Retail stores and shopping centers
  • Common areas in an apartment building or multiple-family dwelling
  • Public or private educational facilities
  • Places of government or public assembly 
  • Public transportation facilities, including bus shelters, airport terminals, transit depots
  • Health care facilities, including residential units in health care facilities
  • In buildings or homes used to provide paid child care whether or not children are present in the building, or in buildings or residences, or care for adults on a fee-for-service basis
  • Vessels operating as a shore-based fisheries business
  • Entertainment venues or sport arenas
  • Busses, ferries, taxis, or other vehicles used for public transportation

Q: Where is smoking and vaping not allowed outdoors?
A:
Under the Smokefree Alaska Law, smoking and vaping is not allowed in the following outdoor areas:

  • within 20 feet of an entrance, open window, or heating or ventilation system air intake vent at an enclosed area at a place where smoking is prohibited
  • within a reasonable distance, as determined by the owner or operator, in the case of a vessel operating as a shore-based fisheries business or a long-term health care facility
  • a seating area for an outdoor arena, stadium, or amphitheater
  • at a place of employment or health care facility that has declared the entire campus or outside grounds or property to be smoke-free
  • within 10 feet of an entrance to a bar or restaurant that serves alcoholic beverages
  • within 10 feet of playground equipment located at a public or private school or at a state or municipal park while children are present

Q: Where can I smoke and vape?
A:
Smoking is allowed in private residences and vehicles. Unless prohibited by a business owner/operator, smoking is permitted in a business vehicle used exclusively by only one person, on vessels engaged in commercial or sport charter fishing, private clubs under circumstances defined in the law, some stand-alone shelters, at retail tobacco or e-cigarette stores under circumstances defined in the law, and other outdoor areas specifically identified as allowing smoking.

Q: Does the Smokefree Alaska Law include marijuana?
A:
Yes. The definition of smoking in the Smokefree Alaska Law includes marijuana smoking.

However,

The Smokefree Alaska Law defers authority for on-site consumption, in licensed marijuana retailers, to the Alaska Marijuana Control Board. Rulemaking is currently under development for on-site consumption. There are additional restrictions that prohibit the use of marijuana in public places, as guided under AS 17.38.040. 

Q: Are taxis and other ride hailing businesses affected by the Smokefree Alaska Law? 
A:
Yes. Under the Smokefree Alaska Law vehicles used to provide paid transportation are considered places of employment. Many familiar ride-hailing companies already have their own smokefree policy that drivers are required to follow.

Q: Are fishing boats covered under this law? 
A:
Smoking is prohibited on vessels operating as shore-based fisheries businesses. Smoking is allowed on commercial or sport charter fishing boats, while fishing, unless prohibited by the owner or operator.

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Alaska's Smokefree Workplace Law: Image of a mechanic working next to a calendar with the 10/1/18 effective date circled. 

For Individuals:

Q: As a patron or employee, how do I comply with the policy?
A:
Do not smoke or vape where it is not allowed.

Q: What is secondhand smoke?
A:

  1. Smoke from burning cigarettes, cigars, pipes, smoke exhaled by the person smoking, and smoke from use of tobacco, marijuana, or other plant product intended for inhalation.
  2. Exhaled aerosol or vapor from electronic smoking devices such as e-cigarettes, vape pens/personal vaporizers and e-hookah.

Q: I want to stop smoking. Are there resources to help me to quit?
A:
The State of Alaska offers free cessation support to all Alaskans through Alaska’s Tobacco Quit Line. Interested parties can call
1-800-QUITNOW (1-800-784-8669) or visit alaskaquitline.com to connect with a quit coach and start their quit attempt. Click here to view other resources to help you quit.

Q: Are there fines or penalties for individuals who choose not to comply with the law?
A:
Under the Smokefree Alaska Law, individuals who choose not to comply with the law are subject to a $50 fine.

Q: How can I find out more information?
A:
For more information about the Smokefree Alaska Law go to: smokefree.alaska.gov.

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Alaska's Smokefree Workplace Law: Image of a cab with the 10/1/18 effective date circled on a calendar. 

For Businesses:

Q: How does the Smokefree Alaska Law apply to my business?
A:
As of October 1, 2018, smoking/vaping is not allowed in places of employment. “Place of employment” means work areas, private offices, hotel and motel rooms, employee lounges, restrooms, conference rooms, classrooms, cafeterias, hallways, vehicles, and other employee work areas that are under the control of an employer.

Q: What do I have to do to comply with the law?
A:
Effective October 1, 2018, smoking/vaping is not allowed at your establishment.

  • Remove all indoor ashtrays or other smoking accessories
  • Place signs in prominent locations in your establishment and near entrances as described in the next answer below. Signs can be requested here.
  • If you see customers, staff, or visitors smoking, direct them to take it outside. Smoking outside of your establishment is not allowed within 20 feet of any entrance/exit, windows, or air intake systems, or within 10 feet of the entrance if you're business is a bar or restaurant that serves alcoholic beverages.

Q: What kind of signs are required for my business?
A:
Required signs inside your business must include one of the following:

  • reads "Smoking Prohibited by Law--Fine $50";
  • includes the international symbol for no smoking; OR
  • includes the words "No Puffin" with a pictorial representation of a puffin holding a burning cigarette enclosed in a red circle crossed with a red bar

Signs must be easily visible in places or vehicles where smoking is prohibited.

Buildings at which smoking is not allowed within a specific distance from the entrance of the building must also have signs easily visible from outside each building entrance. Signs should read:

  • "Smoking within (number of feet) Feet of Entrance Prohibited by Law--Fine $50"

Business owners can request signs at no cost.

Q: Can I provide an outdoor designated smoking area?
A:
Although they are not recommended, designated smoking areas are allowed if they are located more than 10 feet away from an entrance to a bar or restaurant that serves alcoholic beverages. For other types of establishments, a designated smoking area is allowable if it’s more than 20 feet away from all entrances, windows, and air intakes.

Q: As a business owner, can I make my own smoking policy that has stricter requirements, such as requiring a further distance from the door or making my entire property smokefree?
A:
Yes. The Smokefree Alaska Law has established minimum requirements. Business owners can post more signs, or increase the distance at which they allow smoking, so long as that number of signs/distance is greater than what the law requires. Additionally, although the law requires businesses to be smokefree on October 1, business owners are encouraged to begin the process before the effective date. To learn more about how you can transition to a smokefree workplace, download the Smokefree Alaska Business Packet.

Q: How is the law enforced?
A:
The Smokefree Alaska Law is enforced through a complaint driven system. Complaints can be filed here.

Q: How can I support my employees and patrons if they wish to quit smoking?
A:
The State of Alaska offers free cessation support to all Alaskans through Alaska’s Tobacco Quit Line. Call 1-800-QUITNOW (1-800-784-8669) or visit alaskaquitline.com to connect with a quit coach and start a quit attempt. Click here to view additional cessation resources​.

Q: I own a business that sells tobacco. Are customers allowed to smoke (includes sampling) inside my store?
A:
Under the Smokefree Alaska Law an owner or operator may allow customers to smoke at a retail tobacco store if the store meets the definition of a “retail tobacco or e-cigarette store” AND is in a building that is freestanding.

Alaska's Smokefree Workplace Law: Image of a restaurant with the 10/1/18 effective date circled on a calendar. 

Q: Does my business qualify as a retail tobacco or e-cigarette store?
A:
Under the Smokefree Alaska Law, a retail tobacco or e-cigarette store

  • primarily sells cigarettes, e-cigarettes, cigars, tobacco and products containing tobacco, and pipes and other smoking or e-cigarette accessories,
  • has only incidental sales of other products,
  • makes at least 90 percent of its gross revenue from the sale of cigarettes, e-cigarettes, cigars, tobacco and
  • products containing tobacco, and pipes and other smoking or e-cigarette accessories, AND
  • is not a tobacco or e-cigarette department in a larger business, restaurant, or grocery store.

Q: I own a bingo hall or pull tab parlor. Is my business affected by the Smokefree Alaska Law?
A:
Yes, smoking is prohibited. Bingo halls and pull tab parlors are places of employment, as defined in the Smokefree Alaska Law.

Q: Are private clubs such as Elks, Moose, and American Legion affected by the Smokefree Alaska Law?
A:
Yes. Under the Smokefree Alaska Law, smoking in private clubs is only allowed if the club is not licensed to serve alcohol, is not a place of employment, and has been in continuous operation at the same location since January 1, 2017.

Q: What if my private club is staffed by volunteers?
A:
Volunteers are considered employees under the law and require the same protection as regular employees.

Q: I own a business that sells e-cigarettes/vape products. Are customers allowed to smoke/vape (includes sampling) inside my store?

A: An owner or operator may allow customers to smoke or vape at a retail e-cigarette store if the store meets the definition of a “retail tobacco or e-cigarette store” AND meets one of the following sets of conditions:

  • It is in a building that is freestanding

OR

  • It has been in continuous operation at the same location since January 1, 2017;
  • It is not a business that is licensed to sell alcohol at an outdoor location, a business licensed to sell pull tabs, or a retail store that is within an indoor public place or workplace including a restaurant or grocery; AND
  • Smoking is limited to use of an e-cigarette.

OR

  • It is attached to another business or building;
  • It is not a business that is licensed to sell alcohol at an outdoor location, a business licensed to sell pull tabs, or a retail store that is within an indoor public place or workplace including a restaurant or grocery;
  • It has a separate entrance;
  • It is separated from another business or building in a manner that does not allow e-cigarette vapor or aerosol to travel into the other businesses or building;
  • The other business or building does not serve as a residence, child care facility, facility providing care for adults on a fee-for-service basis, school or health care facility; AND
  • ​Smoking is limited to use of an e-cigarette.

Q: I have a question specific to my business, how do I get more information?
A:
If you need help with questions about how the Smokefree Alaska Law affects specific businesses, please email us: tobacco@alaska.gov or call toll-free: 1-855-877-6100.

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Disclaimer

The contents of this document are intended to convey general information only and should not be construed as, and should not be relied upon for legal advice. An attorney should be contacted for advice on specific legal issues.

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