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NC Department of Health and Human Services
NC DPH: Chronic Disease and Injury Section
N.C. Public Health Home

Tobacco Prevention and Control Branch

Current Policy



Federal law prohibits smoking in all federally-funded schools, libraries and health care facilities nationwide.


North Carolina law prohibits smoking in the following:

  • Enclosed areas of almost all restaurants and bars and also enclosed areas of hotels, motels, and inns, if food and drink are prepared there (effective January 2, 2010, pursuant to the N.C. Smokefree Restaurants and Bars Law; see for more information);
  • Buildings owned by the state;
  • Buildings leased by the state as¬†lessor (i.e., landlord), and the area of any building leased and occupied by the state as lessee (i.e., tenant);
  • Passenger-carrying vehicles owned, leased or otherwise controlled by the state and assigned permanently or temporarily to a State employee or state agency or institution for official state business to be smoke-free (effective January 1, 2009);
  • Public school (K-12) campuses and school-sponsored events;
  • Long-term care facilities;
  • State correctional facilities;
  • Family Child Care Facilities (NC Child Care Commission Rule);
  • Nearly all restaurants and bars, and many lodging establishments.

North Carolina law allows the following state/local venues to prohibit smoking and tobacco use:

Local Smoke-free and Tobacco Free Communities

The law allows local governments to prohibit smoking and all tobacco products in the following:

  • Buildings owned by local government,¬†buildings leased by local government as lessor (i.e., landlord), and areas of buildings leased by local government as lessee (i.e., tenant);
  • Any place on a public transportation vehicle owned or leased by local government and used by the public;
  • Passenger-carrying vehicles owned, leased or otherwise controlled by local government and assigned permanently or temporarily to local government employees, agencies, institutions or facilities for official local government business to be smoke-free (effective January 1, 2009);
  • Unenclosed areas owned, leased, or occupied by the local government (i.e. “grounds”;
  • Enclosed areas to which the public is invited or in which the public is permitted (i.e., “public places”);
  • Any enclosed elevator;
  • Public meetings;
  • Indoor arenas with seating capacity greater than 23,000;
  • Libraries and museums open to the public.

N.C. Counties and Municipalities reporting as smoke-free or tobacco-free:

Local Government Smoke-Free Implementation Toolkit

Smoke-Free Worksite Policies

North Carolina law allows any privately-owned worksite to have a smoke-free policy. Many do, according to the 2005 NC Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey (BRFSS) The survey found only 10.8 percent of NC workers are exposed to secondhand smoke in work areas, although more (20.7 percent) are exposed in public areas, such as lobbies. For the state as a whole, smoking allowed at work has declined by about four percentage points since 2002; however, it has increased for Hispanics and other minority groups, as well as for the youngest workers.

A smoke-free worksite policy should ban smoking from all indoor areas, as well as doorways, areas near windows that open and areas near fresh air intake vents. Employers that provide vehicles for employees to drive should also ban smoking from these vehicles.

Only policies that address all these possible areas of exposure can completely protect employees and customers from secondhand smoke.

The CDC's Save Lives, Save Money - Make Your Business Smoke-Free brochure provides information on exposure to secondhand smoke in the workplace and the benefits to employers once a smoke-free workplace has been implemented.

More information on why and how to make your worksite smoke-free is available on the QuitlineNC Employers page.






Updated: October 19, 2018