Skip all navigation Skip to page navigation

DHHS Home | Assistance | Divisions | About DHHS | DHHS Contacts

NC Department of Health and Human Services
NC DPH: Chronic Disease and Injury Section

Tobacco Prevention and Control Branch

Current Policy



Federal law prohibits smoking in all federally-funded schools, libraries and health care facilities nationwide.


North Carolina counties and municipalities reporting as smoke-free or tobacco-free:

North Carolina law prohibits smoking in the following:

  • Enclosed areas of almost all restaurants and bars and also enclosed areas of hotels, motels, and inns, if food and drink are prepared there (effective January 2, 2010, pursuant to the N.C. Smokefree Restaurants and Bars Law; see SmokeFree NC for more information);
  • Buildings owned by the state;
  • Buildings leased by the state as lessor (i.e., landlord), and the area of any building leased and occupied by the state as lessee (i.e., tenant);
  • Passenger-carrying vehicles owned, leased or otherwise controlled by the state and assigned permanently or temporarily to a State employee or state agency or institution for official state business to be smoke-free (effective January 1, 2009);
  • Public school (K-12) campuses and school-sponsored events;
  • Long-term care facilities;
  • State correctional facilities;
  • Family Child Care Facilities (NC Child Care Commission Rule);
  • Nearly all restaurants and bars, and many lodging establishments.

North Carolina law allows the following state/local venues to prohibit smoking and tobacco use:

Local Smoke-free and Tobacco Free Communities

The law allows local governments to prohibit smoking and all tobacco products in the following:

  • Buildings owned by local government, buildings leased by local government as lessor (i.e., landlord), and areas of buildings leased by local government as lessee (i.e., tenant);
  • Any place on a public transportation vehicle owned or leased by local government and used by the public;
  • Passenger-carrying vehicles owned, leased or otherwise controlled by local government and assigned permanently or temporarily to local government employees, agencies, institutions or facilities for official local government business to be smoke-free (effective January 1, 2009);
  • Unenclosed areas owned, leased, or occupied by the local government (i.e. “grounds”;
  • Enclosed areas to which the public is invited or in which the public is permitted (i.e., “public places”);
  • Any enclosed elevator;
  • Public meetings;
  • Indoor arenas with seating capacity greater than 23,000;
  • Libraries and museums open to the public.

Local Government Smoke-Free Implementation Toolkit

Smoke-Free Worksite Policies

North Carolina law allows any privately-owned worksite to have a smoke-free/tobacco-free policy. Many do, according to the 2019 NC Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey (BRFSS). The survey found 8.1 percent of NC workers were exposed to secondhand smoke at work during the last seven days. A tobacco-free worksite policy should ban smoking and all other tobacco use - including vaping - from all indoor areas, as well as doorways, areas near windows that open and areas near fresh air intake vents. Employers that provide vehicles for employees to drive should also ban tobacco use from these vehicles. Many employers choose to make their grounds 100 percent tobacco-free.

Only policies that address all these possible areas of exposure can completely protect employees and customers from secondhand smoke.

The Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights has help on their webpage for any business that wants to go smoke-free or tobacco-free.

Learn how tobacco-free policies save money, and how your community or worksite can partner with QuitlineNC to offer tobacco cessation services and medications here.