Smoke-free workplace laws were first passed in Italy in 1975 prohibiting smoking on public transport services and also in hospital wards, school classrooms, closed premises used for public meetings, cinemas and theatres, dance halls, betting shops, academic lecture theatres, museums, libraries and reading rooms open to the public, and art galleries open to the public. Restaurants and bars were exempt from this law.
The Italian Parliament voted the Article 51 of the Law n.3/2003 for the Public Administration banning smoking in public places in January 2003. Legislation was due to come into force in December 2004. However, the Italian Parliament issued a time delay, and legislation was formally introduced on January 10, 2005.
The new law prohibits smoking in offices, bars, restaurants, hotels, theatres, discos and cafes unless they have a separate smoking area, amounting to less than half of the total space of the room, with continuous floor-to-ceiling walls, sealed off by an automatic door, and with a separate ventilation system.