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With all the indoor (and outdoor) smoking bans that have been springing up in the last few years, it can be tough to keep track of which states are still smoker-friendly. While there’s a short list of states that don’t have statewide bans, those can be deceiving, because many of their cities and municipalities have enacted bans of their own. That’s exactly why I decided to put together this short list of the most smoker-friendly states in the good old U.S. of A. If you’re planning on lighting up a few stogies on your next trip, this one’s for you!
While Tennessee technically has a statewide smoking ban in most workplaces, it exempts businesses (including bars and restaurants) that prohibit anyone under 21, smoking-designated hotel and motel rooms, tobacco-industry related facilities, tobacco shops, outdoor areas, areas with an open garage door, nursing homes, private clubs, private residences and vehicles (unless they’re being used for childcare, daycare, or public transportation for children), and commercial vehicles with no occupants except the driver. In addition to all that, local governments are preempted from creating their own smoking laws, so what the state says goes, and evidently the state doesn’t say too much.
Alaska is one of the few states left that have no statewide smoking ban, though smoking is prohibited in a small handful of common-sense areas: schools during school hours, local and state government meetings, non-psychiatric hospitals and doctor’s offices, and elevators, and who smokes in an elevator anyway? Smoking is allowed pretty much anywhere else as long as the owner of the property sets aside a designated smoking area, and there’s no limit to the size of these areas. So as a general rule, if you’re in Alaska, chances are you can light up wherever you feel like it with no legal ramifications.
Louisiana’s state smoking ban includes schools, workplaces, and public places, including restaurants. You may have noticed how short that list was. On the other hand, the ban’s long list of exemptions includes bars, limousines under private hire, smoking-designated motel and hotel rooms, tobacco shops, outdoor areas, tobacco-related workplaces, convention centers rented out to a private party, and nursing homes (in designated areas). Additionally, many attempts to further Louisiana’s existing smoking ban have been shot down by the state’s legislature, so it looks like they’ll stay considerably smoker-friendly for a while.
Oklahoma has no statewide smoking ban and the state preempts local governments from enacting their own bans. The state’s restrictions on smoking are very loose, allowing indoor workplaces to permit smoking if they install a separate ventilation system to remove smoke from designated smoking areas. Otherwise, smoking is permitted without limitation in bars, private clubs, bingo halls, tobacco shops, small family-owned businesses, workplaces occupied only by smokers, and veterans’ halls. In addition to all that, there’s no outdoor smoking ban, so you can light up in the street or on a park bench without fear of a pricy ticket.
Nevada has a statewide smoking ban that prohibits smoking in all workplaces—except for any business that doesn’t allow anybody under 21. Included in the list of exemptions are standalone bars, casinos, strip clubs, brothels (yes, they still have those), and tobacco shops. So if you’re going to Vegas for a weekend of drinking, gambling, and other unscrupulous activities, smoke ‘em if you got ‘em. By the way, local governments in Nevada are allowed to write their own stricter smoking bans, but no city or county has chosen to do so.
Making this list actually made me a bit sad, because it made me realize how restrictive our states and locales are when it comes to a product that is purported to be completely legal. Thankfully, there are guys like NYC CLASH and Cigar Rights of America, who are constantly fighting to make sure more ridiculous bans don’t spring up in the future. But regardless, it’s good that there are still some places in the U.S. where you can still light up a stogie as freely as you can tell someone how much you hate the smell of theirs. So until the nannies try to take over those states, too, light ‘em up and enjoy!