Indiana Smoking Ban

March 17, 2013
By Michael Smith on March 17, 2013 1:14 PM |

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The "Indiana Smoke Free Air Law," which was passed last year by the Indiana General Assembly and took effect on July 1, 2012, bans smoking in most Indiana businesses and nonprofit organizations. We thought the General Assembly might reconsider some of the details this year, but that hasn't happened. Based on our non-scientific observations, it seems that Indiana businesses and nonprofits have not been very diligent about implementing the law, particularly those regarding signs. So we think it's a good time to review the requirements, or at least some of them.

"Does the smoking ban affect my business?"

Smoking is now prohibited by law in "public places" and "places of employment," as well as the area within 8 feet of public entrances to either of them. "Public places" and "places of employment" sound as if they encompass a lot, and they do. A public place includes any enclosed area of a structure in which the public is permitted or invited, and a place of employment includes any enclosed area of a structure (excluding a private vehicle) that is a place of employment. Lest we forget, there's one other category -- smoking is also banned in government vehicles being used for governmental purposes.

There are some exceptions, but the bottom line is that the smoking ban affects most businesses and nonprofit organizations in Indiana.

"Okay, my office is covered. What do I have to do?"

  • Not surprisingly, you must inform your employees and prospective employees that smoking is prohibited.
  • You must post conspicuous signs that read "Smoking is Prohibited by State Law," or something to that effect. The law has a specific requirement that restaurants must have a conspicuous sign at each entrance informing the public that smoking is prohibited in the restaurant.
  • You must also post signs at each entrance (logically, the sign should be outside or at least visible from the outside) stating "State Law Prohibits Smoking Within 8 Feet of this Entrance" or something similar.
  • If someone smokes on the premises anyway, you must ask him or her to refrain, and if he or she refuses to stop, you must have him or her removed from the premises. (Note: Don't try to do it yourself! In the unlikely event it becomes necessary, call the police.)

"I own a bar. Does the smoking ban REALLY apply to my business?"

It depends. There are some exceptions to the smoking ban, and one of them is for bars and taverns, but you have to meet certain requirements. For example, you may not have any employees under 18, and you must exclude anyone else under 21. There are more exceptions for several other types of places of employment and public places, each subject to particular qualifications or additional requirements.

"Does the law apply to our nonprofit organization?"

Probably. There is an exception that covers some social clubs and fraternal organizations or lodges that are tax exempt under Internal Revenue Code Sections 501(c)(7), (c)(8), or (c)(10), and it's possible that some other types of nonprofits fit into an exception, but most nonprofits are subject to the smoking ban.

"I have a home office. Is smoking banned there, too?"

Again, it depends. The ban does not apply to a business located in the business owner's residence, but only if all the people who work there live in the residence. Let's assume that only you (the owner) and your spouse work in your office. In that case, you're allowed to smoke, but if you have any employees who don't live in your home, smoking is prohibited.

"Are there other exceptions?"

Yes. For a complete list see Ind. Code 7.1-5-1-5.

"My facility falls within an exception to the smoking ban, so I'm home free. Right?"

Well, not entirely. There are some other requirements that apply to public places and places of employment in which smoking is permitted. Here's an interesting one -- you have to post signs that state "WARNING: Smoking is allowed in this establishment." You must also certify to the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission that your bar qualifies for the exception.

Moreover, even if most of your facility or building is exempted from the ban, smoking is prohibited in halls, elevators, and common areas where people under 18 are permitted or in rooms intended for use by people under 18.

And don't forget that even if the state law does not ban smoking in your business, it may be prohibited by local no-smoking laws -- such as the Indianapolis Ordinance -- which are allowed to be more restrictive than the state law.

Other resources

NOTE: This is not a comprehensive analysis of the Indiana Smoke Free Air Law. There are other exceptions and other requirements that may apply to your business or nonprofit (even if it is exempt from the ban itself) that we have not discussed. Here are some other resources:


  • The full text of the statute can be found at Ind. Code 7.1-5-1.

  • The Indiana State Excise Police have published a list of frequently asked questions.

  • And signs that comply with the state law are readily available from a number of suppliers.


If you would like to discuss whether your business is in compliance with the law, feel free to contact us for an appointment. In addition, consider taking advantage of our reasonable initial consultation during which we can explore the ways your business can benefit from our expertise.

Michael Smith, Attorney at Law
John Burkhardt, Legal Assistant