Workplace Smoke-Free Policies


A smoke-free workplace policy is an effective way to protect the health of your most important asset – your employees (both smokers and non-smokers).  A policy can also protect your property, investment, and revenues.

The benefits of a workplace policy far outweigh the time and commitment required to develop and implement such a policy.  A policy sends a clear message to your employees and the community that “you as an employer, care about the health and safety of your employees”!!

“Smoke-free workplaces not only protect non-smokers from passive smoking but also encourage smokers to quit or reduce their consumption, reducing total cigarette consumption per employee by 29%” (Fichtenberg & Glantz, 2002).

Policy Options

Options to ban or restrict tobacco use:

  1. A total ban on indoor and outdoor smoking including penalties for smoking in company vehicles.
  2. A ban on indoor smoking and outdoors within a specific distance from doors, windows and intake vents. 
Your policyshould include support for employees who want to quit or cut down on how much they smokeThis demonstrates that you, as the employer care about all employees, including smokers.


If your workplace decides to develop and implement a policy, you may want to consider:

  • implementing the policy with other efforts to promote health, safety, and healthy environments

  • ensuring representation and full participation by all parts of the workforce

  • respecting the needs and preferences of all

  • focusing on smoke as the problem, not smokers

  • inform employees in advance that a new workplace policy is being developed

  • allow for employee feedback during the transition period

  • time to negotiate and work with labour unions, if needed


If your workplace already has a policy on smoking, you may want to ensure:

  • the expectations are clear

  • the policy is being enforced

  • the policy has been posted or distributed to all employees

  • a plan has been developed for continuing support of smokers who want to quit

A Sample Smoke-Free Workplace Policy

Note: A policy can be developed to suit your workplace needs.  You can address chewing tobacco in the same policy since the same health concerns pertain.

Contact Public Health for more information on developing and/or implementing a Smoke-Free Workplace Policy or visit Health Canada: Towards a Healthier Workplace: A Guidebook on Tobacco Control Policies



Flichtenberg, M. & Glantz, S. (2002). Effect of smoke-free workplaces on smoking behaviour: systematic review.  BMJ,Volume 325. Article can be found at


Health Canada (2003).  Towards a Healthier Workplace: A Guidebook on Tobacco Control Policies.


Making Your Workplace Smokefree: A Decision Maker’s Guide,

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention   (Found online September, 2005). 



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