Smoking Regulations in Georgia


The law of Georgia expressly prohibits smoking in all enclosed public places in the state.[i] 

However, there are some exceptions to this rule and smoking is not prohibited in private residences, unless when it is used as a licensed child care, adult day-care or health care facility.[ii]  Smoking is also allowed in hotel and motel rooms that are rented to guests and are designated as smoking rooms.[iii]  There should however be not more than 20 percent of rooms rented to guests in a hotel or motel which are so designated.  Smoking is also not prohibited in retail tobacco stores, but it should be made sure that secondhand smoke from such stores does not infiltrate into areas where smoking is prohibited.[iv]  Smoking is also allowed in long-term care[v] and outdoor areas of places of employment.[vi]  People can also smoke in smoking areas in international airports.[vii]  Smoking is not prohibited in workplaces of manufacturer, importer, or wholesaler of tobacco products, of any tobacco leaf dealer or processor, and all tobacco storage facilities.[viii]  Inmates in private and semiprivate rooms in health care facilities having the required license that are occupied by one or more persons, all of whom have written authorization by their treating physician to smoke are also exempted from the rule relating to smoking in public places.[ix]

Smoking is also allowed in bars and restaurants, where access is denied to any person under the age of 18 and where no person under the age of 18 is employed.[x]  People using private rooms in restaurants and bars that are enclosed and have an air handling system independent from the main air handling system that serves all other areas of the building and all air within the private room is exhausted directly to the outside by an exhaust fan of sufficient size are also exempted from the rule relating to smoking.[xi]

Smoking is also not prohibited in convention facility meeting rooms and public and private assembly rooms in convention facility provided such facility is not owned, leased, or operated by the State of Georgia, or its agencies and authorities.[xii]  However, in such cases the facility should be used for private functions and individuals under the age of 18 should not be allowed to attend the function or work as an employee during the function.

Smoking is permitted in common work areas, conference and meeting rooms, and private offices in private places of employment, other than medical facilities, that are open to the general public by appointment.  But smoking is not permitted in any public reception area of any such place of employment.  There is however no bar on smoking in private clubs, military officer clubs, and noncommissioned officer clubs.[xiii] 

In case of work places (except bars and restaurant) the areas designated by an employer for smoking shall be located in a non work area. [xiv]  The area should be such that no employee, as part of his or her work responsibilities, is required to enter it.  However, the work responsibilities do not include custodial or maintenance work carried out in the smoking area when it is unoccupied.

The air handling systems from the smoking area shall be independent from the main air handling system that serves all other areas of the building and all air within the smoking area shall be exhausted directly to the outside by an exhaust fan.[xv]  The employer should also ensure that no air from the smoking area shall be recirculated to other parts of the building.

Moreover, the employer should also ensure that the smoking area is used by employees only.[xvi]    

Any person, who owns, operates, manages, or controls an establishment, facility, or outdoor area can declare that entire establishment, facility, or outdoor area as a nonsmoking place.  Smoking can also be prohibited in any place by placing a sign stating that smoking is prohibited in the area.[xvii]

Smoking is generally prohibited in all enclosed areas within places of employment, including, common work areas, auditoriums, classrooms, conference and meeting rooms, private offices, elevators, hallways, medical facilities, cafeterias, employee lounges, stairs, restrooms, and all other enclosed facilities.  The employer should communicate this regulation to all employees of the establishment.[xviii]

The State of Georgia also has rules and regulations to protect the citizens of Georgia from exposure to secondhand smoke in most enclosed indoor public areas to which the public is invited or in which the general public is permitted.  The purpose of the Georgia Smoke free Air Act of 2005 is to preserve and improve the health, comfort and environment of the people of the State, by limiting exposure to tobacco smoke.[xix]

In Georgia, an individual found violating the law is guilty of misdemeanor and, upon conviction shall be punished with a fine of not less than $100.00 and not more than $500.00.[xx]

 [i] O.C.G.A. § 31-12A-4

[ii] O.C.G.A. § 31-12A-6 (a) (1)

[iii]O.C.G.A. § 31-12A-6 (a) (2)

[iv] O.C.G.A. § 31-12A-6 (a) (3)

[v] O.C.G.A. § 31-12A-6 (a) (4)

[vi] O.C.G.A. § 31-12A-6 (a) (5)

[vii] O.C.G.A. § 31-12A-6 (a) (6)

[viii] O.C.G.A. § 31-12A-6 (a) (7)

[ix] O.C.G.A. § 31-12A-6 (a) (8)

[x] O.C.G.A. § 31-12A-6 (a) (9)(A)

[xi] O.C.G.A. § 31-12A-6 (a) (9)(B)

[xii] O.C.G.A. § 31-12A-6 (a) (10)

[xiii] O.C.G.A. § 31-12A-6

[xiv] O.C.G.A. § 31-12A-6 (a) (11)(A)

[xv] O.C.G.A. § 31-12A-6 (a) (11)(B)

[xvi] O.C.G.A. § 31-12A-6 (a) (11)(C)

[xvii] O.C.G.A. § 31-12A-7

[xviii]   O.C.G.A. § 31-12A-5

[xix] Ga. Comp. R. & Regs. r. 290-5-61-.02

[xx] Ga. Comp. R. & Regs. r. 290-5-61-.10