Don’t Bring Tobacco to the Ballpark or Cigarettes to Work

April 5, 2016

Spring training is over and baseball season is here. It’s a time for players to sit in the dugout chewing their tobacco just as they have always done. Only, cities across the country are trying to bring modern times to the sport by eliminating said tradition.

In other words, legislatures all over are making some laws banning smokeless tobacco in ballparks – and that goes for the baseball players too. In honor of these mandates, the MLB has come out and said that it wants players to follow the laws of the locality where they are situated. So, along with a fine from the city that a player might receive for breaking the tobacco law, the player could also be disciplined by the league.

These new laws got me thinking: just like baseball players are ultimately employees who must follow applicable employment laws, so are all of us out there across the country following them as well. And that definitely includes a myriad of smoke and smoke-free tobacco laws.

In honor of baseball players and their increasingly tobacco-free environments, I thought this would be a good time to walk through the variety of tobacco and smoke laws throughout the country, how you should handle them, and what you should be doing to prepare for new laws to come.

Inning 1: Smoking Laws in the USA

So to start your tobacco-compliant game, it is important for you to know the laws. Remember that there can be federal, state, and local laws in your areas, and you need to know all the laws that apply to you for all of your locations.

As far as smoking laws go, most states have laws banning smoking cigarettes in public places. (We will get to other types of laws, such as smoke-free tobacco and e-cigarettes later). Even in those few states where such a ban does not exist, there may be a city law that bans it.

Similarly, even in areas where there is no absolute ban on smoking in public places, there may be some laws that ban smoking in particular areas. For example, maybe you can allow smoking in public if you operate a bar but not an office.

In all likelihood, the odds are that some law is probably banning you from letting people smoke in your workplace. However, there are no laws that require you to allow people to smoke (at work – in a little bit, we will talk about discrimination laws that might not allow you to discriminate against workers who smoke outside of work or in designated smoke areas.) So, if you are ever in doubt, you can rest assured that the safe bet is on enforcing a smoking ban. does a good job of rounding up all of these laws. However, you can always ask legal counsel to make sure all of your questions are answered.

Inning 2: Creating a Policy

Now that you’ve gotten off to a good start, keep it up. The game is still early, and you have a lot to do if you want to win the compliance battle. The next step is to create a policy. As already discussed, the chances are your policy is going to ban smoking. However, even if you allow it in your office, document your stance.

Let people know where they can and cannot smoke and when they are allowed to do so. For example, even if there is a public smoking ban, there might be an exception for a designated smoking area. If so, and you are offering one, make sure employees know where that area is – e.g., outside, 500 feet from the side entrance where the ash tray stations are set up. Also, make sure they know they can use the areas during their break time and not while they are supposed to be at a meeting.

Your policy should be clearly written and easy for employees to understand and follow. There are many sample policies out there that you can use as a template.

Inning 3: Enforcing and Communicating the Policy

You’ve got your game plan down by this point, and you are ready to really get down to business. Now that you know what is going to work for you, do it.

Here is something that can never be stated too many times: a policy does zero good if it is not communicated and enforced. I don’t care if you create the best smoking policy of all time. If your employees do not know about it and there are no consequences for breaking it when it is known, then you might as well have saved the effort of creating it.

Let’s say you decided to ban all smoking, do not just publish the policy – make sure you use your preferred method of communication to let employees know. This could be in an email, during a company-wide meeting, in a sign, or however best your employee gets messages.

In all likelihood, you probably already have some sort of policy in place on this topic. However, periodic reminders can do a world of good – especially if you have many new employees.

Now that everybody knows, make sure they listen. Using the same example from above, your policy says that employees may only smoke by the ash trays 500 feet from the side entrance. However, people continuously go to the front entrance to smoke because it is more convenient. At least they are outside, right?

Definitely not. First, it sets a bad precedent no matter what. However, second, there might be a reason you selected that remote location in the first place. Perhaps an applicable law stated that distance. So start reiterating your policy and requiring employees to listen.

Inning 4: Knowing the Signs

After the third inning of a game, the pitcher has seen all the batters at least once and vice versa. It might be time to start going through some more signs when picking a pitch.

Well, in your tobacco compliance game, you might need some signs too. That is because some states have laws stating the need to post a sign at entrances saying that smoking is banned.

If this applies to you, make sure you have signs in all the required places and that those signs have all the required information on them and are the right size and color.

Inning 5: E-Cigarette Laws

Later in the game, especially if it is close, players may try new things in order to get (or prevent) a run. As cigarette smoking gets more and more restrictions, people look to find other ways around using them.

Right now, the trend has become e-cigarettes. It might seem like an easy compromise to appease smokers who don’t want to have to go out in the bad weather to smoke while still keeping non-smokers happy by allowing people to use e-cigarettes in the workplace.

Not so fast, though. Let me throw you a curveball – the verdict is not out yet on whether e-cigarettes are all that healthy, either. Just like people used to be unaware that cigarettes were so bad, people are afraid that 20 or 30 years from now we will find out that e-cigarettes are dangerous, too.

In the meantime, states and cities are being proactive. In places all around the country, from cities such as Philadelphia and NYC to states such as North Dakota and Hawaii, smoke-free laws are being updated to specifically include e-cigarettes. More are considering it.

While these bans are nowhere near as prolific as those banning smoking, once again, there are no laws that require you to allow e-cigarettes in your workplace. This means that the safe bet is probably banning them.

Inning 6: Smoke-Free Tobacco Laws

We are a little over halfway here since I don’t plan on going into extra innings, so we might as well talk about the laws that got us on this subject in the first place: smokeless tobacco bans.

I can almost guarantee you that if smoking is against the law in your workplace (and as pointed out a few times already, it likely is) then smokeless tobacco probably is as well. Besides, depending on the type of work environment you run, do you really want to have people chewing and spitting that stuff all over your business?

Inning 7: Discrimination Against Smokers

In the late innings of a baseball game, managers start determining whether they should take out a pitcher or take out a player in order to put in a designated hitter.

In my baseball analogy, I am using substitutes as a way to address discrimination. If you are very anti-smoking, then it may be tempting to take out all the smokers from your office. You might want to ban smoking by anyone who works for you at all times. However, this is likely a bad idea.

Many places have laws banning employers from discriminating against employees for smoking or for participating in legal activities (which includes smoking) outside of work. If you have a law like that, then you can no more refuse to hire someone for being a smoker than you could for them being a woman or a member of a specific religious group.

That being said, there is often an exception to this rule for when a smoke-free lifestyles are part of your business function. For example, even if they are located in an area that normally says they cannot discriminate against a smoker, it is unlikely that the American Cancer Society would have to comply with that provision.

Also, there are times when discrimination is a little okay. Case in point, you may be able to have a smoker pay higher health insurance costs.

Inning 8: Keeping Up With Changes

As more and more players are being substituted in as the game progresses, it is important for teams to keep up with everything. In the smoking world, that means you cannot be idle. Make sure you are aware of new laws on this topic that affect you, and adjust your play accordingly.

Closing in the 9th: Final Thoughts

In order to win a game, you have to be able to close. So here we go:

The best way to stay compliant in this area is to know the law and get some verification that what you are doing is in compliance of those laws. So if you have any questions or concerns, make sure you do some research or talk to legal professionals.


Ashley Shaw is an experienced Legal Writer with years of experience. After receiving her JD, she worked for years in a corporate environment writing on business and employment law topics

Get Business Legal Updates

Please provide your full name.
Please provide a valid email address.
We respect your privacy, and we will never share your information. Unsubscribe at any time.

Related Publications

When it comes to business, there are lessons we can learn all around us. Some of the best lessons can be gained from sports, where the team setup is ready for any number of business analogies and lessons. Case in point: It is almost baseball season again, but not every player from last year will…

March 22, 2016

The guys end the week by talking about businessesdenying job applicants unless they are tobacco free.

February 13, 2015

Nasir and Matt talk about Facebook’s lawsuit against DLA Piper and other law firms accused of furthering a fraudulent lawsuit. The guys also answer, “Can I ban e-cigarettes in the workplace?”

October 29, 2014

Nasir and Matt delve into the recently filed lawsuit by a sleeping fan against ESPN.  The then answer the question, “Is it illegal for an employer to not pay an employee for training for a job? This is an hourly wage job, not contract. The location of the job is in California.”

July 18, 2014
Legally Sound Smart Business cover art

Legally Sound Smart Business

A business podcast with a legal twist

Legally Sound Smart Business is a podcast by Pasha Law PC covering different topics in business advice and news with a legal twist with attorneys Nasir Pasha and Matt Staub.
Apple Podcast badge
Google Podcast badge
Spotify Podcast badge

Latest Episodes

November 21, 2023

In this episode, Nasir Pasha and Matt Staub explore the legal implications of Artificial Intelligence in the business world. They delve into the most talked-about issue of 2023: AI and its impact on the legal landscape. Although AI isn’t necessarily a new topic, it has many unanswered questions in the legal world. Nasir and Matt…

July 12, 2023

In this episode, Attorney Nasir Pasha and Attorney Matt Staub delve deep into the complexities of mass layoffs and offer valuable insights, real-life examples, and practical advice to employers grappling with the aftermath of such challenging situations. Nasir and Matt emphasize the critical importance of effective communication when executing mass layoffs. They stress the need…

January 9, 2023

As the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the globe, businesses scrambled to adapt to the new reality it presented. In this blog post, we dive into the case of Goldman Sachs, a financial services giant, to examine their response to the crisis and the lessons other businesses can learn from their return-to-office strategy. From prioritizing employee…

October 28, 2022

Full Podcast Transcript NASIR: Finally, my two favorite worlds have collided – both the law and the chess – right here at Memorial Park in Houston, Texas. Windy day. We have some background noise – ambient noise. What are the two worlds that collided? Well, Hans Neimann has sued Magnus Carlsen for defamation in one…

September 26, 2022

Through a five-round championship bout, Matt travels to Texas from California to determine which state is better for business. Will it be a knockout with a clear winner or will it go to the scorecards?

July 7, 2022

Whether you are buying or selling a business, the transaction goes through the same steps. However, they are viewed from different perspectives. Sellers may not want to fully disclose all the blind spots while Buyers will want otherwise. Nasir and Matt battle it out in this Buyer vs. Seller to determine who has the advantage!…

May 12, 2022

When it comes to Restrictive Covenants, employers are fighting to keep their company safe while employees may use them to their advantage. Keep listening to find out if the Employer or the Employee wins this battle. Round 1: Trade Secrets A company’s trade secrets encompass a whole range of information and are one of the…

February 14, 2022

The Supreme Court rejected the nation’s vaccine mandate. Businesses with 100 or more employees are NOT required to have their employees vaccinated or go through weekly testings. However, this policy remains in effect for health care facilities. In this episode of Legally Sound | Smart Business, the team sat down to discuss their thoughts on this ruling.

December 1, 2021

In this episode of Legally Sound | Smart Business by Pasha Law PC, Nasir and Matt cover the Business of Healthcare. There is more to the healthcare industry than just doctors and nurses. Many Americans have health insurance to cover their yearly needs, but most Americans are not aware of what really goes on behind…

October 12, 2021

In our latest episode, Nasir and Matt are covering the legal issues on Social Media. The average person spends most of their day on social media, whether they are scrolling for hours or publishing their own content. However, just because you publish your own content on Instagram does not equate to you owning that image….

September 28, 2021

What is a Non-Disclosure Agreement, and when do I need one? In this episode, Nasir and Matt shares why you need to use Non-Disclosure Agreements, basic facts about NDA’s, and discuss about the infamous Jenner-Woods story. Having the right Non-Disclosure Agreement in place not only protects you and your business, but it also makes the…

June 16, 2021

Covered in this episode of Legally Sound Smart Business are some typical business mistakes blunders small businesses often make and how to avoid them. Blunder #1: Copying and pasting agreements It may sound like a good idea at the time, but this blunder comes with hidden pitfalls. Having an attorney draft terms that are specific…

February 4, 2021

How you terminate an employee can make the difference between a graceful transition to avoidable negative outcomes like a dramatic exit or even a lawsuit. We gathered a panel of experts and asked them – is there a “right way” to fire an employee? We would like to thank our guests for this episode: Amr…

December 2, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has turned nearly every aspect of life on its head, and that certainly holds true for the business world. In this episode, Matt and Nasir explain how the early days of the pandemic felt like the Wild West and how the shifting legal playing field left a lot open to interpretation and…

November 16, 2020

After plenty of ups and downs, our buyer has finally closed on the purchase of their business. While we’re marking this down in the ‘wins’ column, it never hurts to review the game tape. In this final episode, our hosts, Matt Staub and Nasir Pasha, return to the deal almost a year later to reflect…

September 15, 2020

The ink is drying on the signature line and things are looking great for our buyer. After so much hard work, the finish line is in sight and the cheering within ear shot.   Though the landlord is still serving friction, things seem safe to move forward and for now, our buyer will be keeping…

July 31, 2020

Though things are coming along well, the journey would not be interesting if it was purely smooth sailing. After our buyer opens escrow, they are forced to push the closing date back when suddenly a letter from an attorney was received claiming the business, we are buying has a trade mark on the name!  Now…

June 12, 2020

With frustration at an all-time high and professionalism at an all-time low, our friend the Buyer has “had it” with the Seller and quite frankly their lack of knowledge. At present our Buyer is rightfully concerned that the latest misstep from our loose-lipped Seller will threaten not only the entire operation of the businesses but…

May 11, 2020

As we go deeper into the buying process, we start to uncover more challenges from our seller and encounter some of the wrenches they are tossing our way. When we last left off in episode three our team was knee deep in due diligence for our buyer, had already penned and signed the Letter of…

April 4, 2020

One word–interloper! When a new mysterious broker enters the transaction and starts to kick up dust, Nasir and Matt take the reins. The seller signed off on the letter of intent (see episode 2), yet this “business broker” serves only friction and challenges by refusing to send financials, whilst demanding more of a firm commitment…

April 4, 2020

Just as most stories and deals start out, everyone is optimistic, idealistic and full of hope for clear skies. It’s a perfect outlook with a perfect setup for the ups and downs yet to come. Peek further behind the curtain and into the first steps of buying a business: the letter of intent. After the…

April 4, 2020

When a savvy buyer hears opportunity knocking to purchase a prime positioned business, she decides not to go it alone and taps in the professionals to help navigate what could potentially be a fruitful acquisition. “Behind the Buy” is a truly rare and exclusive peak into the actual process, dangers, pitfalls and achievements, that can…

August 7, 2019

GrubHub is subject to two “matters of controversy” that have likely become common knowledge to business owners: “fake” orders and unfriendly microsites.

May 28, 2019

In this podcast episode, Matt and Nasir breakdown the legal issues of the subscription industry’s business on the internet. Resources A good 50-state survey for data breach notifications as of July 2018. California Auto-Renewal Law (July 2018) Privacy Policies Law by State Why Users of Ashley Madison May Not Sue for Data Breach [e210] Ultimate…

March 12, 2019

In recording this episode’s topic on the business buying process, Matt’s metaphor, in comparing the process to getting married probably went too far, but they do resemble one another. Listen to the episode for legal advice on buying a business.

December 3, 2018

Nasir and Matt return to discuss the different options available to companies looking to raise funds through general solicitation and crowdfunding. They discuss the rules associated with the various offerings under SEC regulations and state laws, as well as more informal arrangements. The two also discuss the intriguing story about a couple who raised over…

July 24, 2018

Flight Sim Labs, a software add-on creator for flight simulators, stepped into a PR disaster and possibly some substantial legal issues when it allegedly included a Trojan horse of sorts as malware to combat pirating of its $100 Airbus A320 software. The hidden test.exe file triggered anti-virus software for good reason as it was actually…

April 17, 2018

Attorneys Matt Staub and Nasir Pasha examine Mark Zuckerberg’s congressional hearings about the state of Facebook. The two also discuss Cambridge Analytica and the series of events that led to the congressional hearings, the former and current versions of Facebook’s Terms of Service, and how businesses should be handling data privacy. Full Podcast Transcript NASIR:…

March 10, 2018

The Trump presidency has led to a major increase in ICE immigration enforcement. It’s critical for business owners to both comply with and know their rights when it comes to an ICE audit or raid. Nasir, Matt, and Pasha Law attorney Karen McConville discuss how businesses can prepare for potential ICE action and how to…

February 5, 2018

New years always bring new laws. Effective January 1, 2018, California has made general contractors jointly liable for the unpaid wages, fringe benefits, and other benefit payments of a subcontractor. Nasir and Matt discuss who the new law applies to and how this affects all tiers in the general contractor-subcontractor relationship. Click here to learn…

January 2, 2018

With a seemingly endless amount of new mattress options becoming available, it is unsurprising that the market has become increasingly aggressive. As companies invest in more innovative solutions to get in front of customers, review sites, blogs and YouTube videos have moved to the forefront of how customers are deciding on their mattresses and how…

December 7, 2017

In recent months explosive amounts of high profile allegations of sexual harassment, assault, and varying acts of inappropriate behavior have transcended every sector of our professional world. With a deluge from Hollywood and politics, and the private workforce, accusations have inundated our feeds and mass media. This harassment watershed has not only been felt within…

November 16, 2017

If you are not familiar with the EB-5 program started in 1990 to give green cards to certain qualified investors in the United States, then you may not have been alone a few years ago. Currently, the EB-5 program has since exploded since its inception and now hits its quotas consistently each year. The program…

October 10, 2017

Government requests come in multiple forms. They can come in as requests for client information or even in the form of investigating your company or your employees. Requests for Client Information General Rule to Follow Without understanding the nuances of criminal and constitutional law and having to cite Supreme Court cases, any government requests for…

August 24, 2017

Nasir and Matt suit up to talk about everything pertaining to employee dress codes. They discuss the Federal laws that govern many rules for employers, as well as state specific nuances in California and other states. The two also emphasize the difficulty in identifyingreligious expression in dress and appearance, how gender-related dress codes have evolved…

June 28, 2017

Nasir and Matt discuss the life cycle of a negative online review. They talk about how businesses should properly respond, how to determine if the review is defamatory, the options available to seek removal of the review, how to identify anonymous reviewers, whether businesses can require clients to agree not to write negative reviews, and…

June 7, 2017

On this episode of the Ultimate Legal Breakdown, Nasir and Mattbreak down social media marketing withguests Tyler Sickmeyer and Kyle Weberof Fidelitas Development. They first discuss contests and promotionsand talk about where social media promotions can go wrong,when businesses are actually running an illegal lottery, and the importance of a soundterms and conditions. Next, they…

April 3, 2017

On this episode of the Ultimate Legal Breakdown, Nasir and Matt go in depth with the subscription box business. They discuss where subscription box companies have gone wrong(4:30), the importance of a specifically tailored terms and conditions(6:30), how to structure return policies (11:45), product liability concerns (14:45),the offensive and defensive side of intellectual property (19:00),…

February 1, 2017

Nasir and Matt discuss the suit against Apple that resultedfrom a car crashed caused by the use of FaceTime while driving. They also discuss howforeseeable use of apps can increase liability for companies. Full Podcast Transcript NASIR: Hi and welcome to Legally Sound Smart Business! I’m Nasir Pasha. MATT: And I’m Matt Staub. Two attorneys…

January 5, 2017

The guys kick in the new year by first discussing Cinnabon’s portrayal of Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia soon after her death, as well as other gaffes involving Prince and David Bowie. They alsotalk about right of publicity claims companies could be held liable for based on using someone’s name or likeness for commercial gain.

December 22, 2016

Nasir and Matt discuss the recent incidentat a Victoria’s Secret store where the store manager kicked out all black women after one black woman was caught shoplifting. They then each present dueling steps businesses should take when employees are accused of harassment.

December 8, 2016

Nasir and Matt return to talk about the different types of clients that may have outstanding invoices and how businesses can convert unpaid bills to getting paid.

November 10, 2016

After a long break, Nasir and Matt are back to discuss a Milwaukee frozen custard stand that is now revising it’s English only policy for employees. The guys also discuss how similar policies could be grounds for discrimination and what employers can do to revise their policies.

October 6, 2016

The guys discuss the new California law that allows actors to request the removal of their date of birth and birthdays on their IMDB page and why they think the law won’t last. They also discuss how age discrimination claims arise for business owner.

September 29, 2016

Nasir and Matt discuss the racial discrimination claims surroundingAirbnb and how it’s handled the situation. They also discuss some practical tips for businesses experiencing similar issues.

September 8, 2016

Nasir and Matt discuss whyAmazon seller accounts are getting suspended and banned without notice and how business owners can rectify this situation through a Corrective Action Plan.

August 25, 2016

Nasir and Matt talk about the accusations surroundingfashion giant Zararipping off the designs of independent artists like Tuesday Bassen and howsmaller companies can battle the industry giants.

August 18, 2016

Nasir and Matt discuss Brave Software’s ad replacing technology that has caught the eye of almost every national newspaper and has a potential copyright infringement claim looming. They also welcome digital marketing expert Matt Michaelree to speak on the specifics of what Brave is attempting to do and whether it has the answers moving forward.

July 28, 2016

Nasir and Matt discuss the sexual harassment lawsuit filed by Gretchen Carlson against Fox CEO Roger Ailes. They also talk aboutthe importance of sexual harassment training and properly handling such allegations in the office.

July 15, 2016

Nasir and Matt talk about the changes at Starbucks that have led to many disgruntled employees and customers.

We represent businesses.
That’s all we do.

Oh, and we love it.

We love our work. We love reviewing that lease for your new location. We thrive on closing that acquisition that nearly fell through. We’re fulfilled when we structure a business to grow, raise capital, and be legally protected.

We focus on developing close relationships with our clients by being like business partners. A partner who provides essential, personalized, proactive legal support.

We do all of this without utilizing the traditional billable hour model. You pay for the value we bring, not the time spent on calls, emails, and meetings.

Our team is made up of attorneys and staff that share these values and we are retained by clients who want the same.

Pasha Law PC operates in the states of California, Illinois, New York, and Texas.

Meet Our Team

Fractional General Counsel Services

Pasha Law Select offers the expertise of a high-end general counsel legal team for every aspect of your business at a fixed monthly rate. Pasha Law Select is deliberately designed to allow our legal team to be proactive, to anticipate, and to be comprehensive in serving our clients. To be great lawyers, we need to know our clients. We can’t know our clients unless we represent a select number of clients in the long-term. This is Pasha Law Select.

Learn More