Smoking and Vaping in Public Places and Secondhand Exposure

  • Secondhand smoke is a mixture of gases, fine particles and toxic chemicals exhaled from a person who is smoking a burning product such as cigarettes, hookah or marijuana.
  • Secondhand smoke causes about 47,000 deaths each year primarily from cancer and heart disease.
  • There is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke.
  • Secondhand vapor or aerosol contains fine particles, toxic chemicals and heavy metals which can cause respiratory irritation and increase asthma risk. Long-term effects are unknown.
The Law
State law and Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department regulations prohibit smoking in indoor public places and places of employment with "any kid of lighted pipe, cigar, cigarette, hookah, or any other lighted smoking equipment" including but not limited to cigarettes, cigars, hookah shisha, and marijuana.

Additionally, local regulations protect the public and employees from exposure to secondhand vapor or aerosol.

Laws that project Pierce County residents, including workers in their places of employment include:

Click here for more information about e-cigarette regulations in Pierce County.

Enforcement
The Health Department has the authority to enforce state and local regulations that prohibit smoking and vaping in public places and places of employment. Businesses that allow smoking and vaping are subject to civil penalties, re-inspection fees, and may face additional legal action. Enforcement measures are described in The Health Department’s Smoking in Public Places regulations.

Business licenses will not be issued by Pierce County or its cities and towns for any types of smoking lounges or vaping lounges

Because of funding cuts, we are no longer able to respond to all complaints of smoking in public places. Businesses that allow smoking are still subject to civil penalties, re-inspection fees and may face additional legal action.

For "No Smoking" signs, information, questions or complaints about smoking or vaping in public places and worksites, call (253) 798-6500.

For specific questions regarding hookah or marijuana use in Pierce County as they relate to smoking in public places or worksites, contact Kirsten Frandsen, (253) 798-3540 or kfrandsen@tpchd.org.

Smoke-Free Housing and Outdoor Environments
Learn about smoke-free housing efforts in Pierce County and apartment complexes that prohibit smoking.

Resources and Related Documents