Smoking Regulations in New Jersey


The “New Jersey Smoke-Free Air Act” lays down the smoking regulations in New Jersey.   New Jersey prohibits smoking in almost all indoor public places and in workplaces[i].  Smoking is also prohibited in any area of any building of, or on the grounds of, any public or nonpublic elementary or secondary school, regardless of whether the area is an indoor public place or is outdoors.[ii] “Indoor public place” is defined as a structurally enclosed place of business, commerce or other service-related activity, whether publicly or privately owned or operated on a for-profit or nonprofit basis, which is generally accessible to the public.[iii] 

There are some places where the prohibition on smoking does not apply.  These places include cigar bars and cigar lounges, tobacco retail establishments that make 51 percent or more of their sales from tobacco products, tobacco businesses, private homes, and private residences, and private automobiles, floors of casinos and casino simulcasting facilities.[iv]

Smoking is also permitted in up to 20% of the guest rooms of a hotel, motel or other lodging establishment.[v]  However, a hotel, motel or other lodging establishment is not required to provide a nonsmoking room to a guest if all the designated nonsmoking rooms are occupied.

The person having control of an indoor public place or workplace is required by law to place in every public entrance to the indoor public place or workplace a sign, indicating that smoking is prohibited therein, except in such designated areas where smoking is expressly permitted. The sign shall also indicate that violators are subject to a fine. The person having control of the indoor public place or workplace shall post a sign stating “Smoking Permitted” in letters at least one inch in height or marked by the international symbol for “Smoking Permitted” in those areas where smoking is permitted.[vi]

The person having control of an indoor public place or workplace shall order any person smoking in violation of the law to comply. A person,who after being so ordered,  continues to smoke will be subject to a fine of not less than $250 for the first offense, $500 for the second offense and $1,000 for each subsequent offense.[vii]  The Department of Health and Senior Services or the local board of health or the board, body or officers exercising the functions of the local board of health, upon written complaint or having reason to suspect that an indoor public place or workplace may be in violation, shall, by written notification, advise the person having control of the place accordingly and order appropriate action to be taken.[viii] A person receiving that notice that fails or refuses to comply is subject to a fine of not less than $250 for the first offense, $500 for the second offense and $1,000 for each subsequent offense.

Under law, no employer can refuse to hire or employ any person or discharge from employment or take any adverse action against any employee with respect to compensation, terms, conditions or other privileges of employment because that person does or does not smoke or use other tobacco products.[ix]  The employer can however take such steps if the employer has a rational basis for doing so which is reasonably related to employment.  An aggrieved person may institute a civil action within one year from the date of the alleged violation.[x]  The Commissioner of Labor may collect a civil penalty imposed against the employer of an amount up to $2,000 for the first violation and $5,000 for each subsequent violation.[xi]

[i] N.J. Stat. § 26:3D-58(a)

[ii] N.J. Stat. § 26:3D-58(b)

[iii] N.J. Stat. § 26:3D-57

[iv] N.J. Stat. § 26:3D-59

[v] N.J. Stat. § 26:3D-60

[vi] N.J. Stat. § 26:3D-61(a)

[vii] N.J. Stat. § 26:3D-62(a)

[viii]N.J. Stat. § 26:3D-62(b)

[ix] N.J. Stat. § 34:6B-1

[x] N.J. Stat. § 34:6B-3

[xi] N.J. Stat. § 34:6B-4