Frequently Asked Questions - Clean Indoor Air Act

Why was the law passed?

The Alabama legislature passed the Alabama Clean Indoor Air Act to protect the public's health and the health of employees from the dangers of exposure to secondhand smoke.

back to top

When does the Clean Indoor Air Act take effect?

The law went into effect on September 1, 2003.

back to top

Where can I find a copy of the law and the administrative rules?

View a copy of the law. The administrative code provides guidance on how the provisions of the law will be carried out and enforced. View a copy of the Administrative Code.

back to top

Does the Clean Indoor Air Act ban smoking?

No. The law prohibits smoking in certain areas.

back to top

Where is smoking prohibited?

Under the Alabama Clean Indoor Air Act, no smoking is allowed in the following places, unless the area is enclosed and well-ventilated:

  • Child care facilities
  • Hospitals, health care clinics, doctors' offices, physical therapy facilities, and dentists' offices
  • Elevators
  • Buses, taxicabs, and other means of public conveyance
  • Government buildings, except private offices
  • Restrooms
  • Service lines
  • Public areas of aquariums, galleries, libraries, and museums
  • Lobbies, hallways, and other common areas in apartment buildings, senior citizen residences, nursing homes, and other multiple-unit residential facilities
  • Polling places
  • Schools or other school facilities or enclosed school sponsored events for grades K-12
  • Retail establishments, excluding restaurants, except areas in retail establishments not open to the public
  • Lobbies, hallways, and other common areas in multiple-unit commercial facilities

View city ordinances which may afford additional protection from secondhand smoke.

back to top

In which outdoor areas is smoking prohibited?

The Alabama Clean Indoor Air Act does not address outdoor areas, however, there are city ordinances that may address outdoor areas.

back to top

Can employees smoke in a designated break room or in an outdoor area?

The Alabama Clean Indoor Air Act states any employee shall have the right to designate his or her work area as a nonsmoking area and to post the same with an appropriate sign or signs, to be provided by the employer. Smoking is prohibited in all common work areas, unless a majority of the workers who work in that area agree that a smoking area will be designated. Any employer has the right to designate the entire place of employment smoke free. View city ordinances which may afford additional protection from secondhand smoke.

back to top

Do all bars and restaurants have to be smoke free?

The Alabama Clean Indoor Air Act does not prohibit smoking in bars or restaurants, although designated smoking areas must be enclosed and well ventilated. No more than one fourth of the total square footage in any public place within a single enclosed area may be designated a smoking area, unless the clientele dictates otherwise. No area designated as smoking shall contain common facilities which are expected to be used by the public. Examples of common facilities include restrooms, service lines, hallways, lobbies, and elevators.

The Act further states that if any restaurant is deemed by its owner as being too small to have a designated smoking area, it shall be left up to the discretion of the owner if the facility will be a smoking or nonsmoking facility. The Administrative Code states a restaurant is too small when it seats less than 50 people and does not have existing barriers to contain toxic smoke. View city ordinances which may afford additional protection from secondhand smoke.

back to top

I own a bar and do not allow smoking on my patio. Does the law allow me to keep my patio smoke free even though the law says that smoking may be allowed?

Yes. An owner, operator, manager, or other person having control of an area may declare the entire area as a non-smoking area.

back to top

Is smoking allowed in a cigar bar?

The Alabama Clean Indoor Air Act does not address cigar bars, however, the Act does not restrict smoking in bars or lounges. View city ordinances which may afford additional protection from secondhand smoke.

back to top

At what distance from an entrance is outside smoking allowed?

The Alabama Clean Indoor Air Act does not impose distance requirements on outdoor smoking. However, many city ordinances do restrict this activity. View city ordinances which may afford additional protection from secondhand smoke.

In addition to city ordinances, most public schools, hospitals, public health departments, and mental institutions have adopted tobacco free campus policies that would prohibit tobacco use anywhere on the grounds or in the buildings they control.

back to top

Is smoking allowed in a private residence?

Smoking is allowed in a private home except when that home is used as a child care facility. Then smoking is allowed, if it is in an enclosed and well ventilated area.

back to top

Is smoking allowed in multi-unit apartment buildings?

The Alabama Clean Indoor Air Act prohibits smoking in common areas of apartment buildings, senior citizens' residences, nursing homes, and other multi-unit facilities. These common areas include: reception areas, lobbies, hallways, laundries, elevators, restrooms, stairways or stairwells, common dining facilities, mail rooms, service lines, and any other area that is expected to be used by the public. Smoking is not regulated in private apartments within a multi-unit apartment building. View city ordinances which may afford additional protection from secondhand smoke.

back to top

Is smoking allowed when children or minors are present?

The Alabama Clean Indoor Air Act does not address smoking when children or minors are present except when a private residence is a child care facility. Smoking is prohibited in child care facilities unless the area is enclosed and well ventilated. The Act also prohibits smoking at enclosed school-sponsored events, unless the area is enclosed and well ventilated.

In addition, most public schools have adopted tobacco free campus policies. View school system policies. View city ordinances which may afford additional protection from secondhand smoke.

back to top

Do "no smoking" signs have to be posted?

The Alabama Clean Indoor Air Act requires persons in charge of a facility to prominently post and maintain "No Smoking" signs consisting of a pictorial representation of a burning cigarette enclosed in a circle with a bar across where smoking is prohibited. Signs designating smoking areas are also required to be posted where appropriate in public places. Signs must be posted on every entrance or door used by employees or patrons. View city ordinances that may have additional requirements for "No Smoking" signs.

back to top

Where can I get the required signs?

Signs which meet the requirements of the Alabama Clean Indoor Air Act can be downloaded here. Customized signs or signs suitable for outdoor use should be ordered from private vendors. Please note municipalities may have additional signage requirements. View city ordinances.

back to top

How will the smoke free law be enforced?

The primary goal of the enforcement process is to achieve voluntary compliance by educating the public and business owners about the requirements of the law. The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) will maintain a system for receiving and investigating complaints. However, ADPH may refer complaints regarding a violation of the law to designated law enforcement authorities. View city smoke free ordinances that may also apply.

back to top

Where can I file a complaint?

Complaints may be reported to your Area Tobacco Control Coordinator. Please click here to obtain contact information.

back to top

What happens when the Alabama Department of Public Health receives a complaint?

If the individual who filed the complaint leaves contact information, ADPH will contact them to further investigate the details of the complaint. ADPH will then conduct a site visit to investigate the complaint. If a violation is observed, the ADPH will issue a "notice of violation" to the person in charge of the facility and provide information regarding how the person in charge can come into compliance with the Alabama Clean Indoor Air Act.

The location will be reinspected within 40 days to ensure changes were implemented to come into compliance with the Act. The Area Tobacco Control Coordinator will also review any relevant city smoke free ordinances to relay complaint information to the appropriate city official.

back to top

What are the penalties for an individual who violates the law?

A person who smokes in a non-smoking area may receive a citation and civil fine of $25 from a law enforcement official. Additional municipal penalties may also apply, as indicted in the relevant city smoke free ordinance. View city ordinances.

back to top

What are the penalties for a business that violates the law?

A business that violates the law may receive a civil fine of $50 for a first offense, up to $100 for a second offense (within a year), and up to $200 for the third and subsequent offense (within a year). Additional municipal penalties may also apply, as indicted in the relevant city smoke free ordinance. View city ordinances.

back to top

What are my responsibilities as an employer or business owner?

An employer, business owner or manager must not permit smoking in areas where smoking is prohibited by the Alabama Clean Indoor Air law. To meet this responsibility, an employer must post signs that meet the requirements of the law at every entrance to a non-smoking area. City smoke free ordinances may require additional responsibilities. View city ordinances.

back to top

As a business owner, what do I do if I observe someone smoking in my establishment?

The owner or person in control of the business must inform the individual who is smoking that smoking is not permitted in that area by law. City smoke free ordinances may provide additional guidance. View city ordinances.

back to top

Can you still smoke at a public campground or on a public lake in your boat?

Under the Alabama Clean Indoor Air Act, smoking is allowed on hiking trails, at campsites or campfires, and on lakes, rivers or other bodies of water. However, nothing prohibits any owner, operator, manager, or other person having custody or control of a public campground from declaring the entire area or property a non-smoking place. View city ordinances which may afford additional protection from secondhand smoke.

back to top

How are golf courses affected by the law?

Under the Alabama Clean Indoor Air Act, the course of play of a golf course is not required to be smoke free. However, nothing prohibits any owner, operator, manager, or other person having custody or control of a golf course from declaring the entire area or property a non-smoking place. View city ordinances which may afford additional protection from secondhand smoke.

back to top

How does the Alabama Clean Indoor Air Act apply to federal buildings and vehicles?

The Alabama Clean Indoor Air Act does not apply to federally-owned buildings, grounds, or vehicles. However, federal law may prohibit smoking on federally owned property.

back to top

What assistance is available if I want to quit smoking or for my employees who want to quit smoking?

The Alabama Tobacco Quitline provides free smoking cessation services to all Alabamians. The Quitline will work with you to set up a quit plan and help you with coaching after you quit. You may also qualify for a free, 4-week course of nicotine patches. Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) or visit www.alabamaquitnow.com for more information.

back to top

How are daycares/child care facilities impacted by the law?

Under the Alabama Clean Indoor Air Act, smoking is prohibited in any enclosed areas of a daycare or child care facility, including those in private residences, unless the area is well ventilated. View city ordinances which may afford additional protection from secondhand smoke.

back to top


Page last updated: April 13, 2017