Smoke is Smoke


Just like secondhand tobacco smoke, many of the chemicals in secondhand marijuana smoke are toxic and contain hazardous fine particles that pose a significant health risk to nonsmokers.


It is important to strengthen all smokefree laws — both existing and new — to include marijuana in the definitions of smoking and vaping. Clearly define smoking as “inhaling, exhaling, burning, or carrying any lighted or heated cigar, cigarette, or pipe, or any other lighted or heated tobacco or plant product intended for inhalation, including hookahs and marijuana, whether natural or synthetic, in any manner or in any form.”

Protect Nonsmokers' Rights

If marijuana smoking is allowed indoors in public places, both employees and patrons are at risk. Secondhand smoke exposure from marijuana can cause significant health issues including breathing problems.

Many states have now legalized marijuana (also called cannabis) for medical (26, plus DC) and/or recreational use (7, plus DC), with many more considering it. A new industry for marijuana consumption is being created in the U.S. and it has one goal: to normalize marijuana use, including smoking, everywhere and to have it regulated “just like alcohol.” As the trend toward normalizing public smoking of marijuana grows, we need to be aware that more laws will likely be proposed to weaken smokefree protections and allow for broader use of smoking marijuana in public places and even in workplaces. The marijuana industry wants to accomplish this goal, in part, by borrowing tactics from Big Tobacco’s playbook and chipping away at smokefree protections.

Our position paper, Protecting Nonsmokers from Secondhand Marijuana Smoke, provides in-depth information on the hazards of marijuana secondhand smoke, industry arguments and activities, ventilation arguments, smokefree policy trends, and other resources.

Smokefree is Smokefree


contains hundreds of chemicals — just like secondhand tobacco smoke.


contains 3 times the amount of ammonia.


contains significant levels mercury, lead, formaldehyde, benzene, hydrogen cyanide, & toluene.


impairs blood vessel function. Read more.

Marijuana Smokefree Policy Trends

As of August, 2020, 761 localities and 29 states/territories/commonwealths restrict marijuana use in some or all smokefree spaces. Of these, 413 localities and 17 states/territories/commonwealths prohibit smoking and vaping of recreational and medical marijuana in one or more of the following venues: non-hospitality workplaces, restaurants, bars, and/or gambling facilities.

Keeping a Watchful Eye on Legalized Marijuana Regulations

February 2018

ANR is concerned that regulations proposed by cannabis boards in California, Colorado, and other states that have legalized recreational marijuana do not adequately consider the public health need to protect non-users from exposure to secondhand marijuana smoke.

We're concerned that communities may weaken clean air protections to allow marijuana smoking and vaping in places that are currently required to be smokefree.

Recently, ANR saw a news clip about a cannabis festival being held at a county fairgrounds in California, which highlighted that the festival would allow indoor marijuana smoking. ANR staff contacted the local tobacco control program, who knew about the festival but not that it planned to allow indoor smoking. Marijuana smoking in workplaces and public places violates California’s smokefree air law and the new state marijuana regulations. The tobacco control program mobilized quickly and discovered that the fairgrounds management, festival operators, and local police did not have accurate information about the smokefree and marijuana laws. Thanks to the program’s outreach, the fairgrounds CEO said that smoking would not be allowed in fairgrounds buildings..

This situation is a good reminder that tobacco control programs, health partners, and advocates should keep an eye out for events and venues that may try to permit marijuana smoking in places where it is not allowed. Likewise, we should all be alert to efforts by marijuana businesses and boards to advocate for weakening smokefree protections to allow marijuana smoking in more workplaces and public places.

We’re not questioning the rights of individuals to use marijuana.

We’re advocating for the rights of nonsmokers to breathe smokefree air.

The bottom line is that smokefree spaces should stay smokefree. Regardless of how one feels about marijuana use, no one should have to breathe secondhand marijuana smoke at work, in public, or where they live.

Include secondhand marijuana smoke in your smokefree laws

ANR Can Help