At work, we have a lounge for employees where they can relax and have coffee or eat something. It's quite large in size, but the company has hundreds of employees in that building (an airport) so there could be anything from 1 to 30 or 40 employees at the same time there.

The area is a non-smoking area, but smoking in prohibited places is tolerated in my society (sadly), and people do not follow such rules about smoking. At least it is better now, people do not smoke inside the offices unlike few years ago, so they kinda feel they are ok to smoke in this lounge! Now, I do not want to discuss how to FORCE employees not to smoke or how to ENFORCE the smoking law because this is complicated and it needs authorities (which does not really care about smoking, since it is accepted in the society) and that's not what I intend to do now. A smoking room is an idea but it can not be done due to many reasons. The nearest open place where they can smoke is a 1 minute walk; but still, they think it is far.

My idea is, I want to make people stop smoking in a creative way. There are a lot of complains from non smokers. Still, the smokers do not really feel anything, and they keep smoking. An idea was introduced by one of the employees, which is making a shame list in the facebook group (which has almost all employees as members in it). So we take photos of people who smoke there and then post it in the shame list in the group. It sounds okay, but I am afraid there could some consequences to it. Other idea was to simply punish employees by the company laws but again this is not creative and many managers are one of those who smoke!

So how can I make people stop smoking while at work in this lounge?

  • 40
    Develop lung cancer from second hand smoke and sue the company for millions of dollars for not enforcing the rule. Come on, it's the American Way of doing things. Commented May 6, 2013 at 3:24
  • 10
    I would install an automatic fire disinguisher system. The probably stop once they are flooded with water and need to pay for clean up. Commented May 6, 2013 at 4:09
  • 7
    @Petter you know what, I am going to get few smoke detector with high sensitivity and install them, let us see who can handle that sound :)
    – user8959
    Commented May 6, 2013 at 9:47
  • 4
    Is public embarrassment socially acceptable in your society? Commented May 6, 2013 at 10:28
  • 4
    A poster: "We, the undersigned, would appreciate if you did not smoke in this area. Thanks" Commented May 6, 2013 at 10:57

7 Answers 7


I would suggest you put up a visible but not imposing poster in the areas in question.

"We, the undersigned, would appreciate if you do not smoke in this area. Thank you"

Then either list names, or a photo montage of all who want to participate. For this to work you probably need 50 or more.

The idea is to change the game. Instead of just having signs it is socially acceptable to ignore, you essentially make each and every one of the persons on the sign exactly that: A real person. Additionally each of these real persons ask you explicitly to not do something. If you read the poster and then still decide to smoke in the area, you have chosen to disregard the explicit request of hundreds of people, which is a much bigger obstacle than just ignoring a faceless sign.

  • 1
    I totally like this idea, I believe more than 500 will sign.. not only 50 :)
    – user8959
    Commented May 6, 2013 at 11:01
  • 1
    Please tell us how it went. Commented May 6, 2013 at 14:29
  • 2
    I will, with photos as well :)
    – user8959
    Commented May 6, 2013 at 15:55
  • All this will do is alienate the smokers and could cause friction between smokers and non smokers.
    – Neuro
    Commented May 7, 2013 at 0:15
  • @Neuro depends on the culture. Remember that there is already rules in place for this. Commented May 7, 2013 at 5:46

Any compliance program must start with management setting a good example. When management ignores the rules it is a sign to the rest of the staff that those rules need not be followed. As long as it is tolerated for management to break the rules openly, it is going to be very hard to convince everyone else to follow the rules.

If I were to try to tackle this problem I would first start with signage. I would make sure that there is abundant signage that will direct people to designated smoking areas. This will help people to comply with the rules, and help those who want to avoid the smoke know where these places are.

I would also post "NO SMOKING IN THIS AREA" signs with a phone number people can call to complain in the areas that are currently being abused. Even if there is no action taken against the violators knowing that they run the risk of it being reported may deter many from using the area. Second if security or management starts getting a flood of complaints about the smokers they may actually take a more active role in curbing the smoking in these areas.

Finally make the smoking area a desirable place to take smoke breaks. Good tables, comfy seating, plentiful ash and butt receptacles, and other accents that make the smoking area a more desirable location. This should hopefully help entice the smokers to choose the designated area for smoking.

  • I think the stick-posters will only work in some cultures. Would this work in the USA? Commented May 7, 2013 at 16:22
  • 1
    +1 for making the smoking area more comfortable -- better to give them incentive to go elsewhere than give them disincentive to stay
    – jmac
    Commented Oct 9, 2013 at 1:50

If your society allows this kind behaviour then I fear this is going to be a hard thing to change quickly. And I fear punishment will make people worse in behaviour rather than better.

My thoughts are that perhaps you can introduce a health and wellness program where you get people to buy into healthier lifestyles. Perhaps you can get some experts into give some presentations. Maybe a competition for being fitter (I've had places encourage this by giving everyone a pedometer, and then encouraging people to rack up distances, and at the end of the time win some nice prizes).

At the same time you take the message about Non smoking and smoking places to be kept separate. Put up lots more signs in the both smoking rooms asking people to be considerate and to go to the relevant room.

Quitting inconsiderate smoking may be hard for some people and in time you have to apply pressure slowly and without mixed messages. People will need to be encouraged. It doesn't have to have be just about stopping smoking altogether. It's about educating people about the effects of secondary smoking on non smokers and thus you have the idea of smoking elsewhere.

Another thought is perhaps you can do this the other way round. Why not swap the smoking and Non smoking rooms around? Maybe by getting all the the people who smoke to use only one room for a period of time, you can better segregate them. Then as your health programme moves along, you could perhaps move the rooms round, but this time having established that no one smokes in the Non smoking room.

At the end of the day, you need buy in from management to force this.

  • 1
    A health and wellness program sounds like an attempt to get people to stop smoking altogether. I certainly applaud the idea, and it might get a few people to stop, but inevitably many won't break the addiction. I don't see that it would do much to get people to smoke elsewhere. Commented May 6, 2013 at 19:50
  • 2
    It doesn't have to have be just about stopping smoking altogether. It's about educating people about the effects of secondary smoking on non smokers and thus you have the idea of smoking elsewhere Commented May 6, 2013 at 21:04
  • That's a good point -- and one that you might want to mention more explicitly in your answer. Commented May 6, 2013 at 21:26
  • Done. Feel free to edit the answer too. Commented May 6, 2013 at 21:58

Use smoke detectors. As bad as second hand smoke is to your health, fire can be much worse. This is why smoke detectors were invented. Put a couple battery powered ones in the areas you want to be a 'truly' smoke free environment. Mount them high enough to make it difficult to turn-off or disable. The non-smokers can take up a collection to pay for batteries if the company won't.

Edit: One of the benefits, is you won't have to baby-sit the area or have to go running to management to complain. Everyone will know someone is smoking. I suggested mounting them high enough to make the system more fool proof and prevent tampering.

  • 2
    It is an airport, there may be (and probably are) regulations about fire protection equipment. Adding an add hoc smoke detector in the airport is probably going to create more problems than it solves. Further we expect all of the answers here at TWP to be complete answers and explain why they are correct, not just what to do. Commented May 6, 2013 at 13:15
  • 1
    Third world? what does that has to do with his @AmyBlankenship?
    – user8959
    Commented May 6, 2013 at 13:47
  • 1
    @HaLaBi Because the need for things to comply with regulations is lower in places that have fewer regulations. Commented May 6, 2013 at 14:23
  • 2
    @AmyBlankenship - That Columbus GA is hardly 3rd world and I suspect if it were not for the ban on lighters you would be able to smoke at or near the gates there today. So your claim of sounds like 3rd world comes across as highly condescending. The OP obviously does not like the situation and your statement seems offensive to me. Commented May 6, 2013 at 14:28
  • 3
    It's not condescending--I honestly do believe the OP is in a 3rd world country. If that's not the case, he should clarify. But to be honest, I also do believe that much of the US (especially the South) is more like the 3rd world than we like to believe. Commented May 6, 2013 at 17:28

Be aware that creativity here can get dangerous. When you go with humor or really out of the box solutions, you have to make sure that:

  • You aren't offensive - I can see some people getting hurt or offended by a wall of shame - particularly on an extremely public forum like Facebook.

  • You are clear - humor can get laughed off, or subtle cues (like removing any possible ash-recepticle...) may be overlooked.

Really and truly, as un-creative as it may be, something clear and direct may be the best bet. Some clearer ideas:

  • Get a sense of exactly how many people mind the smoking. And how many people don't smoke (even if they don't care about smoking in the lounge, they are not contributing to the smoke).

  • Start raising awareness - if you have a majority of people who don't smoke and/or don't want to be in a smoky lounge, start making that clear. If you have management who's contributing to the problem, you may want to go with general numbers, and not names. Signs or private conversations may be a way to go.

  • Try a smoke-free day, or something similarly small - get even the smokers on board with being outside on nice days. Get everyone to appreciate that the lounge is nicer when it's not smoky. Nor no-smoking Fridays...

  • Where these things fail is that smokers are already non conformists for the most part. Part of this has to do with the addiction that is smoking. It is difficult for those who have never been addicted to understand the compulsion that exists. So telling them to give it up so that you can move the window away from being able to fill the need, is something to rebel against. Even over 6 years since I quit I still feel the desire strongly for a cigarette. I suspect that if I had not developed an allergy to it I would still smoke despite a strong desire to quit. Commented May 6, 2013 at 15:17
  • I'm not suggesting they quit. I'm suggesting they quit smoking in this location... I'm not trying to break an addiction, but change a habit in this office. If you can start smokers smoking outside, at least you can have a smoke free lounge. I agree the cycle of addiction and breaking it is not really something you can totally address in a workplace - it needs its own StackExchange. :) Commented May 6, 2013 at 20:42

At one place where I lived, they had nice promotional posters. Like a skeleton with a sign “smoking makes slim”. One saying “kissing a smoker is like licking a used ashtray”. Or just take the “smoking kills “ from a cigarette pack and blow it up.


I have seen the use of an ash tray that resembles human lungs that makes a coughing noise when you put a cigarette butt in it work reasonably well (it certainly annoys people nearby). It might work as a novel shock tactic for a week or two.

You must log in to answer this question.