INDIANAPOLIS—One year has passed since Indiana joined 39 other states in becoming smoke free. The Indiana Smoke Free Air Law prohibits smoking in all businesses, except for membership clubs, bars, casinos and retail tobacco shops, better protecting millions of Hoosiers from the dangers of secondhand smoke.
Secondhand smoke contains more than 4,000 chemicals, including at least 69 carcinogens. The U.S. Surgeon General found that secondhand smoke is a proven cause of lung cancer, heart disease, serious respiratory illnesses such as bronchitis and asthma, low birth weight and sudden infant death syndrome. In Indiana, an estimated 1,100 deaths annually are attributed to secondhand smoke exposure.
“Protecting Hoosiers from secondhand smoke, helping smokers quit and preventing our kids from choosing tobacco are all top priorities for the Indiana State Department of Health,” said State Health Commissioner William VanNess, M.D. “The statewide Smoke Free Air Law has helped protect millions of workers and business patrons across the state. We know there is no safe level of secondhand smoke and so I am pleased that Indiana businesses have been on board with the law.”
Initial monitoring of the implementation of the law indicates compliance is high, with the vast majority of venues (97 percent) abiding by the no-smoking provision of the law. This data is consistent with other smoke-free air laws.
The Indiana State Department of Health’s Tobacco Prevention and Cessation division has worked very closely with the Alcohol and Tobacco Commission (ATC) to implement the new state law. While ATC is the primary enforcement agency, the State Health Department has developed and distributed materials to educate businesses that are impacted by the law and to educate citizens on what to expect with the new law. Over 8,500 educational toolkits have been distributed to Indiana businesses.
“While 300,000 Indiana businesses were affected by the Smoke Free Air Law, only 108 have been cited for violating the law,” said Travis Thickstun of the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission's enforcement division, Indiana State Excise Police. “We are finding that as excise officers work to educate businesses across the state, the vast majority come into compliance with the law once they learn what they need to do. Because our officers are finding that most people want to follow the law, only a few citations have been necessary.”
Smoking and secondhand smoke-related illnesses cost Indiana millions of dollars per year. A 2012 report from the Bowen Research Center at the Indiana University School of Medicine concluded that secondhand smoke costs Indiana $1.3 billion per year, or $201 per resident.
Local communities may pass laws stronger than the state law. To date, thirteen Indiana municipalities have passed smoke free air policies that protect workers in all workplaces, including bars and membership clubs, including Bloomington, Evansville, Fort Wayne, Franklin, Columbus, Plainfield, Terre Haute, Zionsville and the counties of Delaware, Hancock, Monroe, Vanderburgh and Vigo.
Those interested in learning about the law and the resources available can go to www.breatheindiana.com. To report a violation or ask a question, please visit the ATC website at www.in.gov/atc.
To visit the Indiana State Department of Health, go to www.StateHealth.in.gov.