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Smokefree Air Laws

The smokefree air laws grading system is based on criteria developed by an advisory committee convened by the National Cancer Institute with some modification to reflect the current policy environment. The criteria were presented in the article, "Application of a Rating System to State Clean Indoor Air Laws (USA)" (Chriqui JF, et al. Tobacco Control. 2002;11:26-34). This approach provides scoring in nine categories: Government Workplaces, Private Workplaces, Schools, Child Care Facilities, Restaurants, Retail Stores, Recreational/Cultural Facilities, Penalties and Enforcement. All laws are open to interpretation and our analysis may differ from those of the authors noted in the above study.

To reflect the current policy environment, two additions have been made to the advisory committee's recommended categories of smokefree establishments. An additional category for bars has been added to all states. A second category, Casinos/Gaming Establishments, was added to the states which allow casinos or gaming establishments. Adding these categories became necessary after the committee made its recommendations in 2002, because a number of states have prohibited smoking in bars and casinos/gaming establishments since then, and states need to be recognized in the grading system for protecting workers in these places from secondhand smoke.

The smokefree air grade for each state is based on a total of all points received in all categories. The grades are based on a maximum score of 40 if the state has no casinos or gaming establishments, or 44 if the state has casinos or gaming establishments. Both these high scores have been attained by states in this year's report. The maximum score of 40 or 44 becomes the denominator, and the state's total points serve as the numerator. The percentage was calculated and grades were assigned following a standard grade-school system. States receiving scores in the top 10 percent of the range (90 to 100 percent) earned an "A." Those receiving scores falling between 80 and 89 percent got a grade of "B," between 70 and 79 percent a "C" and between 60 and 69 percent a "D." Those that fell below 60 percent received an "F." The points break down as follows:

Assigned Grade

No State Casino/Gaming Establishments

State Casino/Gaming Establishments Present

A

36 to 40

40 to 44

B

32 to 35

36 to 39

C

28 to 31

31 to 35

D

24 to 27

27 to 30

F

23 and below

26 and below

There are two situations that create exceptions to the grading system:

  • Preemption: State preemption of stricter local ordinances is penalized by a reduction of one letter grade. States with preemption that have a score of 40 points or higher (or 44 points or higher dependent on whether the Casinos/Gaming Establishments category is applicable for that state) are not penalized for preemption.
  • Local Ordinances: States without strong statewide smokefree laws may be graded on the basis of local ordinances. Strong local smokefree air ordinances that include most workplaces, all restaurants and bars are considered according to the percentage of population covered in a given state. States with over 95 percent of their population covered by comprehensive local smokefree ordinances will receive an "A," over 80 percent a "B," over 65 percent a "C" and over 50 percent a "D." Local ordinances that cover less than 50 percent of the population will not be considered for evaluation.1

Key to Smokefree Laws Ratings by Category

For all categories, laws that require that smoking be permitted or laws without any restrictions for the particular category receive a score of zero (0).

  1. Government Workplaces (4 points): Target is "state and local government workplaces are 100 percent smokefree, no exemptions." Score was lowered if restriction depended on type of ventilation, location of smoking area and/or number of employees. A bonus point (+1) was available if the laws met the target criteria and required the grounds or a specified distance from entries or exits to be smokefree.
  2. Private Workplaces (4 points): Target is "private workplaces are 100 percent smokefree, no exemptions." Score was lowered if restriction depended on type of ventilation, location of smoking area and/or number of employees. A bonus point (+1) was available if the laws met the target criteria and required the grounds or a specified distance from entries or exits to be smokefree.
  3. Schools (4 points): Target is "no smoking permitted in public and non-public schools during school hours or while school activities are being conducted." Score was lowered if restriction depended on type of school, school hours, type of ventilation and/or location of smoking area. A bonus point (+1) was available if the laws met the target criteria and extended the law/policy to any time in school facilities, on school grounds, and at school-sponsored activities.
  4. Child Care Facilities (4 points): Target is "no smoking permitted during operating hours in childcare facilities (explicitly including licensed, home-based facilities)." Score was lowered if restrictions depended on ventilation standards, location of smoking areas and/or exemptions for certain types of facilities.
  5. Restaurants (4 points): Target is "restaurants (explicitly including bar areas of restaurants) are 100 percent smokefree." Score was lowered if restriction depended on type of ventilation, location of smoking areas and/or exemptions for some restaurants. A bonus point (+1) was available if the laws met the target criteria and extended the law/policy to outdoor seating areas of restaurants.
  6. Bars/Taverns (4 points): Target is "bars/taverns and similar types of establishments are 100 percent smokefree." Score was lowered if restriction depended on ventilation standards, location of smoking area and/or if laws only applied to some but not all bars/taverns. A bonus point (+1) was available if the laws met the target criteria and extended the law/policy to private clubs or similar establishments at all times.
  7. Casinos/Gaming Establishments (4 points): Target is "casinos/gaming establishments are 100 percent smokefree." Score was lowered if restriction depended on ventilation standards, location of smoking area and/or if laws only applied to some but not all casinos/gaming establishments. This category does not apply to states that do not have casinos/gaming establishments or only casinos/gaming establishments on Native American lands.
  8. Retail Stores (4 points): Target is "retail stores or retail businesses open to the public are 100 percent smokefree." Score was lowered if restriction depended on ventilation standards and/or location of smoking area, and if laws only applied to some but not all retail stores or businesses.
  9. Recreational/Cultural Facilities (4 points): Target is "recreational and cultural facilities are 100 percent smokefree." Score was lowered if restriction depended on ventilation standards, location of smoking area and/or if laws only applied to some but not all recreational/cultural facilities.
  10. Penalties (4 points): Target is "graduated penalties or fines, applicable to smokers and to proprietors or employers, for any violation of clean indoor air legislation." Score was lowered if penalties included possibilities for delay, exceptions for either smokers or proprietors/employers, or penalties that only applied to some but not all offenses. An intent requirement or affirmative defenses reduced the score by one (1) point.
  11. Enforcement (4 points): Target is "designate an enforcement authority for clean indoor air, require sign posting and have a phone number and/or online location to report violations." Score was lowered if there was no requirement for sign posting, there was no phone number or online location to report violations, enforcement authority only applied to some sites, or an enforcement authority or sign requirement existed, but not both. A bonus point (+1) was available if the laws met the target criteria and required the enforcement authority to conduct compliance inspections.
  • Sources
    1. Data on local ordinances is obtained from the Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights Foundation, www.no-smoke.org.
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