Following a nationwide trend of individual states enacting legislation to curb public smoking, Indiana’s new anti-smoking legislation becomes effective on July 1, 2012. The law specifically applies to employers because it forbids smoking in places of employment, public places, and areas within eight feet of an entrance to a place of employment or public place. Places of employment such as bars that do not employ individuals under the age of 18 or allow individuals under the age of 21 (other than employees) to enter, riverboats, casinos, and certain fraternal clubs are excluded from the law’s requirements. Smoking in a private vehicle at the workplace is not prohibited.
Requirements for employers in the state of Indiana include the following:
- The law requires covered employers to communicate to their current (and prospective employees) that smoking is prohibited in the workplace by law.
- Signs must be posted at each public entrance to the facility that read “State Law Prohibits Smoking Within 8 Feet of This Entrance.”
- Employers must take efforts to make the workplace smoke-free, such as removing ashtrays.
- Employers are required to take efforts to enforce the no-smoking rule.
These requirements could be accomplished in a number of ways. Notice could be provided by posting a notice, sending out a memorandum, holding a meeting, or any other method by which the new requirement is made known company-wide. A simple statement on employment applications regarding the no-smoking policy is probably acceptable for the notice requirement to prospective employees. The sign posting requirement is self-explanatory, and vendors will soon be offering compliant signs for sale. Lastly, the other requirements can be met by simply removing any smoking paraphernalia from work and public facilities (and 8 feet from any public entrances), and ensuring that employees or third parties who violate the prohibition are requested to immediately cease smoking in forbidden areas.
Violations of the law, such as failing to post the signs required above or leaving ashtrays inside a work facility, will result in fines and penalties. The first three violations carry a maximum $1,000 penalty, while additional violations increase the penalty to $10,000.
Finally, it is important to be aware of the non-discrimination and non-retaliation aspects of the new law. Employees who make complaints about smoking in the workplace or otherwise invoke the law’s protection cannot be retaliated or discriminated against.
If you have any questions about the new law, please contact the labor and employment counsel at Smith, Gambrell & Russell, LLP.