In November of 2006, 58% of Ohio’s voters passed the Smoke-Free Workplace Law. The law mandates that all public places and places of employment prohibit anyone from using tobacco products in workplaces (i.e., offices, factories, employer-owned vehicles) or public places ( i.e., restaurants, bars, lobby areas, waiting rooms). No smoking signs with the hotline phone number (866-559-OHIO) must be posted and all indoor ashtrays must be removed. Proprietors can allow smokers to smoke outside, but within a safe distance from any doors and windows of a building so smoke does not enter the establishment.
How does the law work?
This law is designed to be complaint driven. This means that residents need to call the hotline (1-866-559-OHIO) or the health department to file a complaint. The Knox County Health Department environmental health division will investigate the complaint before a warning or a citation is made. The complaints will be reported into Ohio Department of Health’s web-based system. The report will include the nature of violation, date and time of violation, and address/county of business or individual.
Any appeals by a business or individual will be handled through the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas. No appeals will be handled in Knox County. Any violation fines that are not paid within the designated timeframe will be handled by the state Attorney General’s office.
Some places are exempt
The Ohio smoke free workplace law does allow some places to be exempt. This includes:
- Private residences
- 20% of hotel/motel rooms
- Family owned businesses
- Nursing homes
- Retail tobacco stores
- Outdoor patios and private clubs
However, most of these establishments must follow certain criteria to be exempt.
Check out this summary of the law.
Three things businesses need to do to comply with the law
Businesses and other public places are expected to comply with the law by doing the following three things:
- Prohibit smoking in any “public place” or “place of employment.”
- Remove all ashtrays and other smoking receptacles in all “public places” and “places of employment.”
- Post "No Smoking" signs with the toll-free enforcement number.
The Knox County Health Department has laminated, adhesive 5" x 7" signs, available free for local businesses, agencies and other public places. If you would like to receive a free sign from the Knox County Health Department,
or if you are interested in smoking cessation classes for your employees, contact Mike Whitaker, grant manager for the Tobacco Prevention Program at
or by phone at 740-392-2200, Ext. 2233.
"No Smoking" signs can also be downloaded and printed from the links posted below.
Signs for entrances to public places and businesses
Signs for company vehicles
Please note that you will need to print the signs in color.
The law states that if the no smoking symbol is used, it must be printed in color.
You are not required to use the actual sign designs provided by the Knox County Health Department, but instead can create or purchase other "No Smoking" signs, as long as the signs meet the specifications of the law which include the posting of the toll-free number to report violations.
For more information
Ohio Department of Health - Smoke Free Workplace