Your Right to a Smoke-Free Workplace
Employers must protect their employees from secondhand smoke exposure by prohibiting smoking in all enclosed areas of business facilities in Maine where employees perform work and for which the employer is responsible. The law applies to workplaces, regardless of whether they are privately owned or owned by a state or local government entity. Smoking is prohibited in private offices. Smoking is also prohibited in employer-owned and –leased vehicles used by employees’ and is also prohibited in employee-owned vehicles used in the course of work, whenever employees are in the vehicle, or another person is in the vehicle for work-related reasons.
Employers may only allow smoking outdoors, at least 20 feet from entryways, vents, and doorways and not in a location that allows smoke to circulate back into the building.
Employers can exceed Maine law and ban smoking entirely. Employers, however, may not refuse to hire tobacco users, not are employers allowed to discriminate against employees who smoke or use other tobacco products outside of their employment.
Employees have a right to breathe clean air that is tobacco smoke free in all indoor workplaces in Maine.
Employers must also supervise the implementation of the policy, or they are subject to a fine of up to $100 per day enforced by the Department of Human Services.
Help Your Employer Adopt a Workplace Program
Many workplaces around the state have begun programs in the workplace, and are enjoying the results of cost-effective strategies. They are finding creative ways to promote healthy, active lives, and they are starting programs that include walking, access to physical activity, eating healthy foods, health screening, and smoking cessation.
Here are some ways employees are urging employers to adopt stronger workplace programs:
- Tell them about the benefits. When businesses seehow they can benefit, they are more likely to respond. Let your employer know about benefits such as higher productivity, less absenteeism and lower costs.
- Tell them about the results. Learn about the success stories of smoke-free policies in other workplaces around the state, and share the results of policies that have included exercise programs, healthy eating habits.
- Tell your employer you want a healthier workplace. A healthy workplace is your right. Maine law requires you to create a smoke-free workplace. But you can let also your employer know you want tougher policies that go beyond the law.
- Identify others who will lend support. Find others in your workplace who will support healthy initiatives, whether it’s smoking cessation, being more active, or eating more healthy foods, and who will help plan the policy and carry it out.
- Gather information about your workplace. Find out about employee smoking habits, existing smoking policies, insurance, fire laws, and legal issues such as regulations or union contracts, and coverage in your company health insurance plan for smoking cessation programs and nicotine patches.
- Get management involved. When management-level employees get behind an idea, it can jump-start interest. Put together a group of representatives from all areas within your company – employees, management, and if appropriate, unions and officially recognized employee organizations.
- Show them the facts. Gather facts about the dangers of tobacco addiction, the dangerous effects of secondhand smoke, and the benefits of healthy programs to employees, communities and business.
- Tell them how easy it is. It’s not difficult to implement a smoke-free policy. When employers follow the guidelines for creating a policy and use templates to create one that will work for them, they’ll see how easy it is to start making achange.
- Say you’ll help. When employers are involved in creating policies and generating new ideas, it makes it easier for employees to agree.
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