New Jersey Smoke-Free Air Act - Synopsis

The New Jersey Smoke-Free Air Act was passed overwhelmingly by the New Jersey Legislature.  The Senate vote, in December 2005, was 29 to 7.  The Assembly vote, in January 2006, was 64 to 12.  Governor Codey signed the legislation January 15, 2006, effective April 15, 2006. In January, 2010, an amendment was passed to prohibit the use of electronic smoking devices in indoor public places and the sale to minors, which became effective March 13, 2010.

The Act says, "The Legislature finds and declares that ... tobacco smoke constitutes a substantial health hazard to the nonsmoking majority ... and it is clearly in the public interest to prohibit smoking in all enclosed indoor places of public access and workplaces."

The law requires smokefree environments in essentially all indoor workplaces and places open to the public including places of business and service-related activities except for a few specifically named exceptions.  Affected sites that must be smokefree include, but are not limited to:

It also prohibits smoking outdoors on the property of any public or nonpublic elementary or secondary school, in addition to indoor school facilities.

The only specified exceptions where smoking may, but need not, be permitted, are:

The legislation, in an earlier proposed version, excepted sites owned and operated by social and fraternal organizations, when used by members, and in which all services are performed by members who do not receive compensation of any kind. But that exception, which was only to have been a two years' exception, was removed from the final, enacted law. Both the legislation's co-sponsor, Senator Adler, and the Senate Health Committee Chairperson, Senator Vitale, have publicly stated that private clubs are included.

Additionally, a hotel or motel may, but need not, permit smoking in a maximum of 20% of its guest rooms.

For a more complete description of exceptions, click here

Enforcement is by the New Jersey Department of Health or the local board of health.  A person having control of an indoor workplace or public place shall order any person smoking in violation of the act to comply.  A person who smokes in violation is subject to a minimum fine of $250 for the first offense, $500 for the second offense, and $1,000 for each subsequent offense.  

An indoor public place or workplace in violation of the act, that fails to comply with the act following written notice, is subject to minimum fine of $250 for the first offense, $500 for the second offense, and $1,000 for each subsequent offense.  In addition, the court may order immediate compliance with the provisions of the act.

Municipalities may enact ordinances which provide restrictions on or prohibitions against smoking equivalent to, or greater than, those provided under this law, including different enforcement procedures and additional penalties.

To see the full text of the New Jersey Smoke-Free Air Act (P. L. 2005, Chapter 383, C.26:3D-55 et seq.) on the New Jersey State Legislature website, click here.

Please note: The information presented on this website is not intended as, nor to be construed, or used, as legal advice, and should not be used to replace the advice of your legal counsel.

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Last update: 8/7/12