Maryland may become the first state to ban on-the-job smoking under rules approved by a state board. Bars and restaurants would be excepted.
William Fogle, state licensing and regulation secretary, proposed the ban to protect workers in private and government indoor workplaces from secondhand smoke in a state with one of the nation's highest cancer rates.
An occupational health advisory board approved it Wednesday.
"It's a first for the nation. It was an extraordinary decision and we have tremendous praise for what they've done," said Eric Gally, spokesman for an anti-smoking coalition that includes the American Cancer Society, the American Lung Association and the American Heart Association.
Bruce Bereano, a lobbyist for the Tobacco Institute, said the state cannot use workplace safety laws to ban smoking.
He said the institute would fight the regulation in court.
The regulations could take effect within two months, after a public comment period, Fogle said.