Rhode Island Smoking: What you need to know

The Rhode Island Health and Workplace Safety Act prohibits smoking in all enclosed public places and places of employment, including restaurants and bars; common areas of hotels and motels; convention facilities; retail stores and shopping malls; banks, theaters, auditoriums, and sports arenas (including outdoor stadiums), bingo halls, enclosed parking facilities, state beaches, and public transportation vehicles and terminals (RI Gen. Laws Sec. 23-20-10-3 et seq.).
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Exceptions. Smoking is not regulated in the following:
• Private and semiprivate rooms or designated areas of nursing homes and assisted living residences
• Hotel, motel, and guest-house rooms designated as smoking rooms (up to a maximum of 50 percent of rooms in the facility)
• Smoking bars (with access only from the street and tobacco sales greater than the combined revenue from food and liquor sales)
• Retail tobacco stores as long as they are ventilated so that smoke does not enter areas where smoking is prohibited
• Theatrical performances
Cities and towns may pass smoking prohibitions stronger than the Act. The Act should not be interpreted to permit smoking where it is prohibited or restricted by other applicable laws. Therefore, employers should check with the local department of health before creating or implementing workplace smoking policies.
The Act prohibits smoking in enclosed places of employment without exception; there can be no designated smoking rooms. Therefore, smoking is prohibited in all enclosed work areas including employee lounges and cafeterias, meeting rooms, private offices, and employee-owned vehicles used by more than one person.
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