Indiana smoking ban brings new sign rules

To comply with the statewide smoking ban that begins July 1, there's more for businesses to do than stop patrons and employees from smoking indoors. The same law compels businesses to post an array of signs that announce the ban.

The quaintly simple "NO SMOKING" signs of olden times won't do. The state ban spells out different signs to post at entrances and indoors, and still different signs for restaurants.

Complying can be more complicated in places that have existing smoking bans.

The welter of overlapping laws has Amanda Fall, the executive director of Tobacco Free in Allen County in northeast Indiana scrambling to get the word to local businesses and to print up signs to distribute.

She said she didn't realize what a big job getting the word out would turn out to be.

"I hate that the state didn't get this out to us until 10 days, now nine days, to go," she said Thursday, the day after she participated in a training session with representatives of the state's Alcohol and Tobacco Commission.

However, the statewide ban does cut businesses slack in one respect: There are no requirements governing the size of the signs or the size or form of lettering used on them. The Alcohol and Tobacco website includes printable examples of smoking-ban signs that meet the law's requirements. In a bind, a restaurant owner worried about complying with the law apparently could scratch out the required messages with a marker on sheets of notebook paper, tape them to walls or doors and stay legal after July 1.

Here are key points to keep in mind for staying sign-legal when the smoking ban takes effect.

— The statewide law does not supersede local smoking bans, as long as they are more restrictive than the state ban. (Nothing in the law bars local governments from enacting more restrictive bans, either.)

— Where state law and local law call for different restrictions, the more restrictive requirement is the law to abide by.

— The law requires most public places, work places and restaurants to prohibit smoking. At each public entrance to a work place or a public place, a sign saying that smoking is prohibited must be posted. Restaurants have to post signs at each entrance saying "Smoking is Prohibited in This Restaurant" or something similar.

— Every establishment in which smoking is prohibited must post two or more signs inside saying "Smoking is Prohibited by State Law" or something similar.

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