Rules for Smoking in America

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We understand in many culture it’s very common to smoke in public areas. But now you’re in the U.S. and there are certain rules about smoking. We’re here to help!

First, when we say smoking, we mean smoking cigarettes and hookah. Marijuana and other substances can be covered at a later time. Long story short, our advice is to stay away from marijuana while in the U.S. Your life will be much easier.


Anyway, back to smoking cigarettes.

In the U.S., 38 of the 50 states have some kind of state-wide legislated action banning smoking, and small exceptions for each law. It really depends on which state your located and it may also depend on the city.

For example, in the state of Ohio smoking is banned in public places such as bars and restaurants. However, exceptions include:

1) private residences, except during the hours of operation as a child care or adult care facility for compensation, or a home-based business when specified

2) up to 20 percent of sleeping rooms in hotels, motels and other lodging facilities

3) family-owned and operated places of employment in which all employees are related to the owner as specified

4) nursing homes subject to certain conditions

5) retail tobacco stores that make more than 80 percent of their gross revenue from the sales of tobacco products. Hookah bars are the perfect example of being exempt from the smoking ban law.

6) outdoor patios as defined

7) private clubs with no employees.

To know what the smoking ban law is in your state, visit the American Lung Association and select your state.

ONE BIG IMPORTANT THING: In most cases, you will NOT be allowed to smoke  in your residence hall if you’re living on campus. Be sure to check with your resident assistant/resident adviser (R.A.) or read the policies handbook. If you live off campus in an apartment, check with your landlord first if you are allowed to smoke in the apartment. You’re probably allowed to smoke outside, but you need to be so many feet/meters away from the building. Again, check with your R.A. or policies handbook.


Hookah bars have actually grown in popularity in the U.S. in the past 10 years, especially in college/university towns. According to a recent study, one out of three U.S. college students have smoked a hookah before. College students said they like the social and relaxing atmosphere. Though popular in college towns, most hookah bars do not serve alcohol.

Again, you can’t smoke a hookah inside your residence hall room if you live on campus. You can’t smoke hookah in any public place. In some areas you can smoke a hookah outside of the residence hall or apartment complex, but again you need to check with your R.A. or apartment landlord to know how many feet/meters you need to be away from the building.

If you want to find a hookah bar near you, we recommend

We can’t answer every question pertaining to smoking in the U.S., but hopefully this information is a good start. If you have questions, don’t be afraid to ask someone or ask the ISV Magazine team via Facebook or comment below.

One thought on “Rules for Smoking in America

  1. Yes, smoking should be banned in public areas not only in bars and restaurants. I live in a building where you can smoke (cigarettes, marijuana and hookah) inside of your apartment but it bothers me because even though you are inside your apartment there are still 20 other apartments and not everyone smokes. The smoke still gets under the doors and filters into the hallways and into other apartments. People should be considerate and if you want to smoke so outside in a well ventilated area and at least 10 feet away from the doorways. Please note I live in Colorado and as long as the marijuana user has the card to allow them to do so they will, I am in no way condoning or encouraging other students to do so. As an international student we have to be especially careful NOT to break laws because our visa can be revoked and we are sent packing. Respect the laws and know your rules & regulations and all will be well)

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