Erie County's New Smoking Law


Erie County's New Smoking Law

Quick Reference


  • Elevators;
  • Buses, taxicabs, and other means of public transportation, and ticket, boarding and waiting areas of public depots;
  • Public restrooms;
  • Service Lines;
  • Retail Stores;
  • All areas available to and used by the general public in all businesses and not-for-profit entities patronized by the public, including, but not limited to, professional and other offices, banks, laundromats, hotels, and motels;
  • Aquariums, galleries, libraries, and museums;
  • Facilities used for exhibiting any motion picture, stage, drama, lecture, musical recital, or other similar performance, except or performers when smoking is part of the production;
  • All rooms, chambers, meeting places or places of public assembly, including but not limited to, school buildings, under the control of any board, council, commission, committee, including joint committees, or agencies of the County of Erie or any political subdivision thereof;
  • Hospitals, clinics, physical therapy facilities, doctors' offices, dentists' offices, and any other health care facility;
  • Lobbies, hallways, and other common areas in apartment buildings, condominiums, retirement facilities, nursing homes, and other multiple unit residential facilities;
  • Lobbies, hallways, and other common areas in multiple unit commercial facilities;
  • Government and municipal buildings, facilities, and vehicles;
  • Polling places;
  • Places of worship.

RESTAURANTS (sale of food is not incidental to the operation of the business - sale of food comprises more that 40% of total annual gross sales).


  • As of January 1, 1997, must limit seating of smoking patrons to 20% of total seating;
  • As of January 1, 1998, all dining areas, restrooms, and waiting areas must be smoke free;
  • Smoking may be allowed in the bar area of restaurants, provided the bar area is not the sole patron waiting area, is not the sole means of entrance or exit to the facility or to its restrooms, and is separated from the seated dining area by a floor-to-ceiling partition or is separated by at least a four foot space.


  • As of January 1, 1997, must limit seating of smoking patrons to 20% of total seating;
  • As of January 1, 1998, all dining areas, restrooms, and waiting areas must be smoke free.

BARS/TAVERNS: (Sale of food is incidental to operation of business, and comprises less than 40% of total annual gross sales).

  • Smoking may be permitted



  • No smoking in "settee" area.
  • Smoking in dining areas of bowling centers consistent with provisions governing Restaurants with or without bars;
  • Smoking may be permitted in concourse area of bowling center, provided that:
    • Area consists solely of adults in league or other tournament play;
    • If open bowling is allowed in remaining portion of bowling center, open bowling must be engaged in exclusively by adults, and adult league patrons must be separated from open bowling patrons by a space of no less than four (4) bowling lanes;
    • If a minor is present on the premises, no smoking may be allowed in the bowling center, unless a designated smoke free enclosed area is provided for minors;
    • Regardless of the activities, state law still stipulates that 25% of concourse be designated non-smoking.


  • Must post signs indicating that non-smoking bingo is available;
  • Effective January 1, 1998, separate rooms must be provided which meet this criteria:
  • Floor-to-ceiling partitions separating rooms;
  • Each room is separated, enclosed, and separately ventilated to the outdoors;
  • Smoke free seating is in an amount sufficient to meet customer demand, or to a level of 50% of total seating, whichever is greater;
  • Smoking room may not be the sole means of entrance or exit to the facility or to its restrooms;
  • Minors may not be allowed within separate smoking room.

(in excess of 5,000 capacity)

  • Indoor facilities - smoke free;
  • Outdoor facilities - indoor and outdoor areas - smoke free;
  • Owners/operators may construct separate smoking room meeting conditions on page 5 of local law;

(below 5,000 seating capacity)

  • Smoking permitted in out of doors;
  • Indoor areas of these facilities - smoke free.


  • All workplaces, public and private, with exception of restaurants, taverns, bowling centers, and other exceptions listed above, are to become smoke free;
  • 90 days after passage of this Local Law, employers must adopt, implement, make known, and maintain a written smoking policy containing the following requirements:
  • Smoking shall be prohibited in all enclosed areas within a place of employment. In addition, smoking shall be prohibited in all work areas including, but not limited to, common work areas, auditoriums, classrooms, conference and meeting rooms, private offices, elevators, hallways, lobbies, medical facilities, cafeterias, employee lounges, stairs, restrooms, business vehicles, and all other enclosed areas.
  • Smoking policy must be communicated to employees at least 3 weeks prior to implementation;
  • This policy would still allow business to construct separate smoking rooms, if they so choose;


  • Private residences, except when used for business purposes;
  • Private vehicles, except when used for business purposes;
  • Establishments whose primary business is the selling of tobacco and tobacco-related products;
  • Any indoor area where private social functions are being held and when the seating arrangements are under the control of the sponsor of such function and not the owner, operator, manager, or person in charge of such indoor area.


  • Commissioner of Health may grant waiver for particular location/establishment if compliance is considered unreasonable;
  • Legislature may also grant waiver through resolution approved by 2/3 vote.


  • Signs must be posted in non-smoking areas of all buildings and other facilities where smoking is regulated by this local law.


  • Enforcement officers are local policing agencies and County Department of Health;
  • Aforementioned are authorized to issue appearance tickets to violators;
  • Hearings to adjudicate the same are to be held by the Commissioner of Health or his or her designee.


  • It is a violation for any person who owns, manages, operates, or otherwise controls the use of any premises subject to this Local Law to fail to request compliance with its provisions;
  • It is a violation for any person to smoke in any area where smoking is prohibited in this Local Law;
  • Violations are punishable by a civil penalty not to exceed $500.


  • Commissioner of Health is to determine rules and regulations necessary to carrying-out this Local Law;
  • The Legislature may disapprove any such regulation promulgated by the Commissioner, but must do so within 60 days of the Commissioner's written notice to the Legislature.


  • Any establishment may provide for its patrons a Separate Smoking Room, provided said room:
    • Is clearly designated as a separate smoking area;
    • Is separate, enclosed, and separately ventilated to the outdoors;
    • Contains adequate means of extinguishing fires;
    • Doors are equipped with self closing devices so as to remain closed except for the purposes of entry and exit from the room;
    • Is not the sole means of entry or exit from the facility or its restrooms;
    • Is not the sole waiting area for the facility;
    • Has signs posted relative to the fact that smoking is permitted in the establishment, and within designated areas only;
    • In restaurants with or without bars, may be used for full-service dining, but may not comprise more than 20% of total seating capacity of restaurant.


  • Unless otherwise stated, the provisions of this Local Law shall be effective January 1, 1997.


  • No later than January 1, 1999, the Chairman of the Legislature shall appoint and convene a Review Committee to evaluate this Local Law;
  • Membership shall represent a cross-section of the community;
  • Committee must report findings and/or recommendations to Legislature within 6 months after its formation.

For More Information Contact: Brian Higgins , Chief of Staff

Erie County Legislature
25 Delaware Ave, Buffalo, NY 14202
Tel: 716-858-7500
FAX: 716-858-8895

Back to Erie County Legislature


Phone: (716) 858-2208

Department of Law
Edward A. Rath County Office Building
95 Franklin Street, Rm 1634
Buffalo, New York 14202