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No Smoking Signs: Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Is smoking prohibited in all public spaces?

A.

There is no single law at the federal level that dictates where one may or may not smoke. Smoking laws vary across states and local ordinances may also govern an area’s or facility’s smoking rules. Smoke-free indoor air laws effective in several states determine which public spaces must count as no smoking facilities. These include states such as California, New York, Washington, Hawaii, Arizona, Colorado, and more. You may find more information here.

Q. What happens if someone violates a facility’s no smoking policy?

A.

This depends on the laws and regulations applicable where the prohibition occurs. Many states like New York and California levy heavy penalties for violating the smoke-free air law. These penalties often increase significantly with repeated violations. Additionally, the consequences of violating a facility’s no smoking policy may also depend on how the facility treats such violations.

Q. Are no smoking signs a legal requirement?

A.

The smoking laws of most states require the use of conspicuously installed no smoking signs. These may prescribe the use of the words ‘no smoking’, the smoking prohibited symbol, or both. Like that of California, many of these laws also specify where the signs should be installed, mentioning the distance specifying how far from the entrance can someone smoke, and the use of smoking permitted signs to identify smoking areas. 


Where Alaska prescribes the use of the words, “Smoking Prohibited by Law – Maximum Fine $50’ along with the international no smoking symbol, Florida recommends the use of these signs in enclosed indoor workplaces and mandates their use at the airport terminals.

Q. Do no smoking signs work?

A.

They certainly do. Not only do no smoking signs identify spaces where people must not smoke, but these also act as visual reminders to ensure minimal violations. Additionally, the smoking bans effective in many states require the use of these signs. For instance, Alabama requires that no smoking signs or the international no smoking symbol be prominently posted and properly maintained. Similarly, Hawaii also requires the use of no smoking signs in and at entrances to places of employment.

Q. Is it mandatory to have the prohibition symbol on a no smoking sign?

A.

Given its universal nature and easy identifiability, the international no smoking symbol reaches a wider audience by breaking the language barrier. While it is not always mandatory to use the symbol on no smoking signs and one may opt for the words “no smoking” instead, many state laws do specify that smoking prohibited areas be identified with the international symbol. Please check with your local authority for accurate information about your location.

Q. Is it allowed to customize no smoking signs?

A.

In most cases, they can be. While only limited customization may be possible on official state no smoking signs and mandatory elements such as any specific text, symbol, letter height, colors, etc., may not be modified, other no smoking signs offer more possibilities. These custom no smoking signs allow you the choice to add the text in your words, select the colors, add details like organization name, and so on. 

However, your customization should not compromise the purpose of the no smoking sign by making it difficult to comprehend. Clear, minimal text, the international no smoking symbol, minimal and contrasting colors, and appropriately sized text mostly work best.

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