Clean Indoor Air Act FAQ

 
 
 
 
 
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What you need to know

What is the law's purpose?

The purpose of the Nebraska Clean Indoor Air Act is to protect the public health and welfare by prohibiting smoking and electronic smoking devices in public places and places of employment.

What does the law cover?

The Act eliminates smoking and electronic smoking devices in enclosed indoor areas including restaurants, bars, keno establishments, horse racing venues and other workplaces (retail/office space, manufacturing, etc.) as well as indoor public places.

What is an electronic smoking device?

Electronic smoking device means an electronic nicotine delivery system as defined in section 28-1418.01. The term includes any such device regardless of whether it is manufactured, distributed, marketed, or sold as an e-cigarette, e-cigar, e-pipe, e-hookah, or vape pen or under any other product name or descriptor. The term also includes any substance that is used in an electronic smoking device. The term does not include a diffuser, humidifier, prescription inhaler, or similar device.

Does the law cover only bars and restaurants?

No, the law also covers any enclosed indoor area of public places or places of employment.

Are there any exceptions to the law?

The only exceptions are:

  • Up to 20 percent of hotel rooms.
  • Tobacco retail outlets defined as a "store that sells only tobacco and products directly related to tobacco. Products directly related to tobacco do not include alcohol, coffee, soft drinks, candy, groceries or gasoline."
  • Electronic smoking device retail outlet
  • Cigar shops
  • Facilities researching the health effects of smoking.
  • Private residences, except when a residence is being used as a licensed child care program.

Some cities may have a local ordinance prohibiting indoor smoking, and those ordinances may not allow exceptions. In those cases, the local ordinance would apply.

What about electronic smoking device retail outlets?

Electronic smoking device retail outlet means a store that: (a) Is licensed as provided under sections 28-1421 and 28-1422; (b) Sells electronic smoking devices and products directly related to electronic smoking devices; (c) Does not sell alcohol or gasoline; (d) Derives no more than twenty percent of its revenue from the sale of food and food ingredients as defined in section 77-2704.24; (e) Prohibits persons under twenty-one years of age from entering the store; (f) Prior to January 1, 2022, may allow an employee who is under twenty-one years of age to work in the store; and (g) On and after January 1, 2022, shall not allow an employee who is under twenty-one years of age to work in the store.

What about cigar shops?

In February, 2015, the Legislature passed an additional exemption to the Nebraska Clean Indoor Air Act for cigar shops. Cigar shops are establishments that:

  • Hold a Class C liquor license.
  • Annually receive ten percent or more of gross revenue from the sale of cigars and other tobacco products and tobacco-related products, except cigarettes.
  • Have a walk-in humidor on premises.
  • Do not sell food.
  • Do not permit the smoking of cigarettes.
  • Do not discount alcohol if sold in combination with cigars or other tobacco products and tobacco-related products.
  • Do not allow anyone under 21 years of age to smoke or purchase any product in the cigar shop.
  • Post a sign on all entrances to the cigar shop, on the outside of each door, in a conspicuous location slightly above or next to the door, with the following statement: SMOKING OF CIGARS AND PIPES IS ALLOWED INSIDE THIS BUSINESS. SMOKING OF CIGARETTES IS NOT ALLOWED.
  • Beginning on November 1, 2015, the cigar shop license shall provide the Liquor Control Commission a waiver signed by each employee of the cigar shop stating that he/she will be exposed to secondhand smoke and the employee shall acknowledge that he/she understands the risks of exposure to secondhand smoke; and
  • Pay an initial nonrefundable application fee of $1,000.

This is also the only exemption to the Act that cannot be altered by county resolution or city ordinance. The Nebraska Liquor Control Commission (LCC) administers the cigar shop application process. Contact the LCC with any questions at www.lcc.ne.gov or (402) 471-2571.

What about outdoor environments?

Outdoor environments are not specifically covered by the Nebraska Clean Indoor Air Act. However, businesses may voluntarily choose to create smoke-free outdoor areas.

Is there a distance requirement away from doors?

No. Businesses have the authority, however, to set a distance limit for smokers and electronic smoking device users from their doorways.

What is an “indoor area"?

Indoor area is defined as “an area enclosed by a floor, a ceiling and walls on all sides that are continuous and solid except for closeable entry and exit doors and windows and in which less than twenty percent of the total wall area is permanently open to the outdoors. For walls in excess of eight feet in height, only the first eight feet shall be used in determining such percentage."

Are signs required?

The law only requires signage for cigar shops and tobacco retail outlets, but other businesses may post signs to help inform customers about the law.

Cigar shops must post a sign on all entrances to the cigar shop, on the outside of each door, in a conspicuous location slightly above or next to the door, with the following statement: SMOKING OF CIGARS AND PIPES IS ALLOWED INSIDE THIS BUSINESS. SMOKING OF CIGARETTES IS NOT ALLOWED.

Tobacco retail outlets must post a sign on all entrances to the tobacco retail outlet, on the outside of each door, in a conspicuous location slightly above or next to the door, with the following statement: SMOKING OF CIGARS AND PIPES IS ALLOWED INSIDE THIS BUSINESS. SMOKING OF CIGARETTES IS NOT ALLOWED.

Are no smoking and e-cigarette signs available for businesses?

No smoking and e-cigarettes door decals are available free of charge by calling 1-877-633-7331, emailing: dhhs.smokefree@nebraska.gov, or by contacting your local health department. These decals do not meet the signage requirement for cigar shops and tobacco retail outlets.

What are the penalties for breaking the law?

A person who smokes or uses an electronic smoking device in a place of employment or a public place in violation of the Nebraska Clean Indoor Air Act is guilty of a Class V misdemeanor (maximum $100 fine) for the first offense and Class IV misdemeanor (minimum $100, maximum $500) for the second and any subsequent offenses. Charges can be dismissed upon successful completion of a smoking cessation program. A proprietor that fails, neglects or refuses to perform a duty under the Act is guilty of a class V misdemeanor for the first offense and Class IV misdemeanor for the second and subsequent offenses.

How do I file a complaint if I think a business is out of compliance?

To file a complaint, please call 877-633-7331, email dhhs.smokefree@nebraska.gov or contact your local health department. You can also fill out an online complaint form.

What are my responsibilities if I am business owner or manager?

Compliance with the provisions of the law is the responsibility of the business owner of a public place or place of employment where smoking and e-cigarette use is prohibited. To ensure compliance a proprietor must take measures that may include:

  1. Posting appropriate signs to inform the public that smoking and e-cigarette use is not allowed.
  2. Removing any smoking paraphernalia designed for on-site use such as ashtrays.

How does a business deal with customers who want to smoke or use electronic smoking devices?

Remind your customers of the law and politely explain that they must step outside to smoke or use electronic smoking devices. Also train your staff about what to say to customers, for example: “They changed the law and you can no longer use your vape indoors. Thank you for your cooperation."

What if a customer refuses to comply?

If necessary use your normal protocol for removing a disruptive customer from your premises.

Is hookah smoking allowed?

Hookah use is prohibited under the law just as cigar, pipe, or cigarette use is with a few exceptions. If a facility meets one of the stated exceptions above, then hookah smoking would be allowed just as cigarette, cigar, and pipe smoking would be allowed.

Is chewing tobacco allowed?

Yes. The law only prohibits smoking and electronic smoking device indoors.

Is smoking or electronic cigarette device use allowed in vehicles?

The Act does not restrict smoking or electronic smoking device use in commercial vehicles, but businesses are free to implement their own vehicle policy.

Can people smoke or use electronic smoking devices in a business when it is NOT open to the public such as after hours, on weekends, or on holidays?

No. Smoking and electronic smoking device use is prohibited at all times in businesses that are not exceptions to the law. The only exceptions to the law are:

  • Up to 20 percent of hotel rooms.
  • Tobacco retail outlets defined as a "store that sells only tobacco and products directly related to tobacco. Products directly related to tobacco do not include alcohol, coffee, soft drinks, candy, groceries or gasoline."
  • Electronic smoking device retail outlet
  • Cigar shops
  • Facilities researching the health effects of smoking.
  • Private residences, except when a residence is being used as a licensed child care program.

Is smoking or electronic smoking device use allowed in "private clubs" like VFWs or American Legions?

It depends on the club's status as a public place and as a place of employment. If the club retains employees or allows the public to access the facility, then it will not be allowed.

What resources are available to help employees quit smoking?

The Nebraska Tobacco Quitline is sponsored by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, Tobacco Free Nebraska program. The toll-free Quitline, 1-800-784-8669 (1-800-QUIT-NOW), gives Nebraska residents 24/7 access to counseling and support services. Calls to the Quitline are free. There are also local tobacco cessation programs available across the state which may be helpful. View a list of known programs.

This information is not intended to be legal advice. Please consult state statutes or contact an attorney for more information about the Nebraska Clean Indoor Air Act.