The law prohibits smoking in all places of employment and commerce, including offices, bars, restaurants, public transportation, taxis and indoor arenas.

Days before the law went into effect, the Empire State Restaurant and Tavern Association filed a lawsuit in state Supreme Court to block the law's enforcement, but no action on the suit had been taken when the law went into effect.

"This law represents an important advance in the occupational health of workers in New York State," said New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health Executive Director Joel Shufro. "Tobacco smoke is a known carcinogen, both for smokers and for anyone around them. Its cancer-causing effects are synergistic with other airborne pollutants, making smoke in the workplace especially hazardous. This law will not only protect workers from inhaling second-hand tobacco smoke, it will also go a long way in promoting smoking cessation among employees who will now be working in smoke-free workplaces."

Other important provisions of the state law: Smoking is allowed in:

  • private autos and in private homes when not used for day care;
  • designated hotel and motel rooms, tobacco retailers, "membership associations" (when operated only by uncompensated volunteers), cigar bars established before Jan. 1 where tobacco products account for at least 10 percent of sales; and
  • in up to 25 percent of outdoor areas of restaurants as long as there is no roof.

Employers are prohibited from providing a smoking break room for employees. Owners and employers "must make a reasonable effort to prevent smoking," without calling police or risking confrontation.

Employees and the public can report violations to their local health department.