Indiana's Smoking Ban Goes into Effect July 1, 2012

  • March 27, 2012

Indiana has become the 40th state in the country to enact a statewide ban on smoking in places of employment.  The ban, signed by Governor Mitch Daniels on March 19, 2012, prohibits smoking in public places, places of employment, and government vehicles.  The new law will become effective on July 1, 2012. Individuals and establishments found in violation of the law can be fined or be subjected to a civil action brought by designated entities.  IC 7.1-5-12 et seq.

The Ban

The law states:

Except as provided in section 5 of this chapter, smoking is prohibited in the following: 

(1) A public place.
(2) A place of employment.
(3) A vehicle owned, leased, or operated by the state if the vehicle is being used for a government function.
(4) The area within eight (8) feet of a public entrance to:

(A) a public place; or
(B) a place of employment.

A “public place” is defined as “an enclosed area of a structure in which the public is invited or permitted.” A “place of employment” is defined as “an enclosed area of a structure that is a place of employment.  The term does not include a private vehicle.”

In addition, discrimination, discharge, refusal to hire, and retaliation are prohibited against persons who report a violation or exercise their rights under the smoking ban.


Exceptions to the smoking ban are detailed in section 5 of the new law.  The 11 exemptions include bars, taverns, horse racing tracks, cigar bars, casinos, riverboats, and hookah bars.  Also exempted are nonprofit private clubs and fraternal organizations.

The “owner, operator, manager, or official in charge of an establishment or premises” in which smoking is allowed must post “conspicuous signs” in the establishment that read “WARNING: Smoking Is Allowed In This Establishment” or other similar language.

Representative Eric Turner (R-Cicero), who co-wrote the legislation that narrowly cleared the state Senate after compromises that expanded the number of exemptions, said that despite the numerous exemptions, the law is still strong.  After the exemptions were added, the American Cancer Society and other public health groups, which were lobbying in favor of the legislation, turn against it.

Posting and Notice Obligations

Covered employers and operators of public places in Indiana must inform their current and prospective employees of the smoking prohibition and remove all ashtrays and smoking paraphernalia from their premises (unless the display of ashtrays or other smoking paraphernalia is intended only for retail sale).  Employers should consider adding a notice on the smoking prohibition in their employee handbooks and employment applications.   Employers and operators of public places must post conspicuous signs at each public entrance that read “State Law Prohibits Smoking Within 8 Feet of this Entrance” or other similar language.

In addition, the “owner, operator, manager, or official in charge of an establishment or premises” in which smoking is prohibited must post “conspicuous signs” that read “Smoking Is Prohibited By State Law” or other similar language.  If an individual is smoking in violation of the ban, the “owner, operator, manager, or official in charge of an establishment or premises” must ask the individual to refrain from smoking and, if that fails, cause the individual to be removed (e.g., with police assistance) from the public place.


Enforcement of the law can be carried out by Indiana’s Alcohol & Tobacco Commission, the State Health Department, local health departments, and law enforcement officers, among others.  These entities may inspect premises that are subject to the new law to ensure compliance and fine and bring a civil action against those found not in compliance.

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This is a brief summary of the new law.  Jackson Lewis attorneys are available to answer inquiries about the new law and assist employers to achieve compliance with this and other workplace regulations.

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