An information session regarding the new statewide smoking ban was held last night at the Bass Lake Community Center, and the more than fifty people that attended learned not just what the law covers, but what procedures need to be followed in order for businesses that qualify for an exemption to receive one.
The session was conducted by Rachelle Back, Regional Director for the Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Commission of the Indiana State Department of Health; Starke County Health Nurse Frank Lynch; and Sherry Fagner, Environmental Health Specialist of Pulaski County.
Back explained that the law, which becomes effective July 1, only covers enclosed areas. She noted that outdoor structures, such as pavilions or gazebos that are not fully enclosed, are not covered by the law, and neither are private vehicles or company-owned vehicles unless the company has a policy in place preventing smoking in their vehicles.
Back also explained that businesses with three entrances, one of which is for employee use only, can allow smoking near the employee-only door.
Enforcement for the new law will be split between the State Excise Police and the county’s health department. For businesses involving alcohol and tobacco, the State Excise Police will be responsible for enforcement, while businesses that fall under other categories will fall under the jurisdiction of the health department.
Starke County Health Nurse Frank Lynch says his department is not looking to pick on any businesses; they’re just trying to comply with the new law.
“It’s not a matter of trying to beat anybody up over it. It’s the law. They passed it, we’ve got to live by it. If anybody wants to fight it, feel free to get a lawyer. I didn’t do it, don’t get mad at me about it,” Lynch laughed. “That’s all it is, that’s all it comes down to. From my outlook on it, it’s just a matter of trying to get everybody to make sure that they’re in compliance with the law. It’s not a matter of trying to beat anybody up.”
For places that do not allow smoking, signage must be placed within the building indicated that they are a non-smoking facility. A free toolkit containing various information, including signs that can be posted, can be requested by visiting www.in.gov/atc.
Lynch explained that businesses that are designated as non-smoking will always be non-smoking, as according to the law, hours of operation do not matter.
“If your business is designated as non-smoking, that’s it. It doesn’t matter if you’re closed, it’s after hours, it’s Sunday – it’s just non-smoking. You can’t smoke in it,” Lynch said.
For businesses that wish to remain smoke-friendly, an exemption form must be mailed or hand-delivered to the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission. It is strongly encouraged that businesses file for their exemptions before June 30, because if they apply after that date, an inspection must be performed before smoking is allowed. If a business files before that date, smoking can be allowed until the inspection is complete.