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Smoking Regulations in Tennessee

The “Children’s Act for Clean Indoor Air”[i] aims to reduce the extent to which children are exposed to environmental tobacco smoke in facilities where children’s services are provided.[ii]  In Tennessee, smoking is prohibited in many public places. These include child care centers that are not run in private homes.[iii]  Child care centers may permit adult staff members to smoke in designated smoking areas to which children are not allowed access.  However, written notification shall be given to the parent or legal guardian upon enrollment if the child care center has an indoor designated smoking area. 

Smoking is also not permitted in any room or area in a community center while the room or area is being used for children’s activities and in group care homes.  Smoking is also not allowed in health care facilities, excluding nursing home facilities, museums, all public and private kindergartens, elementary and secondary schools and residential treatment facilities for children and youth.  In youth development centers and facilities, zoos and school grounds also, smoking is prohibited. [iv] 

“No Smoking” signs, or the international “No Smoking” symbol, is required to be prominently posted and properly maintained on each main building entrance where smoking is regulated.[v]  The law also requires that “No Smoking” signs or “No Smoking” symbols shall be prominently displayed throughout the building to ensure that the public is aware of the restriction.

Signs stating that “Smoking is prohibited by law in seating areas and in restrooms” should be posted at each ticket booth, for elementary or secondary school sporting events.[vi]

Any institution violating any provisions relating to the smoking regulation or failing to take reasonable measures to enforce smoking regulations is taken to have committed a Class B misdemeanor, and is punishable only by a fine not to exceed five hundred dollars ($500).[vii]

The “Non-Smoker Protection Act”[viii] of Tennessee prohibits smoking in all enclosed public places.  This includes aquariums, galleries, libraries, and museums; areas available to and customarily used by the general public in businesses and nonprofit entities patronized by the public, including, but not limited to, banks, laundromats, factories, professional offices, and retail service establishments; child care and adult day care facilities; convention facilities; and all educational facilities.  Smoking is also prohibited in elevators; health care facilities; hotels and motels; lobbies, hallways, and other common areas in apartment buildings, condominiums, trailer parks, retirement facilities, nursing homes, and other multiple-unit residential facilities as well as polling places.  Public and private transportation facilities, restaurants; restrooms, lobbies, reception areas, hallways, and other common-use areas; retail stores; service lines; shopping malls; sports arenas and theaters are also areas where smoking is prohibited by law. This prohibition on smoking shall be communicated to all existing employees and to all prospective employees upon their application of employment.[ix] 

The law of Tennessee permits smoking in certain places.  These include age-restricted venues; hotel and motel rooms that are rented to guests and are designated as smoking rooms;provided, that no more than twenty-five percent (25%) of rooms rented to guests in a hotel or motel may be so designated, premises of any manufacturer, importer, or wholesaler of tobacco products, and all premises of any tobacco leaf dealer or processor, and all tobacco storage facilities.  Smoking is also permitted in non-enclosed areas of public places.[x] 

In places where smoking is permitted, it should be made sure that smoke from non-enclosed areas does not infiltrate into areas where smoking is prohibited.
“No Smoking” signs or the international “No Smoking” symbol, consisting of a pictorial representation of a burning cigarette enclosed in a red circle with a red bar across it, shall be clearly and conspicuously posted at every entrance to every public place and place of employment where smoking is prohibited by this part by the owner, operator, manager, or other person in control of that place.[xi]  This restriction does not however apply to a place of worship.[xii]

A person who knowingly smokes in an area where smoking is prohibited will be subject to a civil penalty of fifty dollars ($50.00).

The owner, manager, operator or the person controlling any public place where smoking is prohibited who knowingly fails to comply with any provision of this part shall be subject to a written warning from the department of health or department of labor and workforce development for a first violation in any twelve-month period.[xiii]  The penalty to such person for a second violation in any twelve-month period, will be a civil penalty of one hundred dollars ($100); and for a third or subsequent violation in any twelve-month period, a civil penalty of five hundred dollars ($500).Each day on which a knowing violation of this part occurs shall be considered a separate and distinct violation.

[i] Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1601

[ii] Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1602

[iii] Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1604

[iv] Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1604

[v] Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1605(a)

[vi]  Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1605(b)

[vii] Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1606

[viii] Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1801

[ix] Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1803

[x] Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1804

[xi] Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1805(a)

[xii] Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1805(b)

[xiii] Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1807

Inside Smoking Regulations in Tennessee