No smoking. Swalpa adjust maadi.

I’ve been taking a closer look at "No Smoking" signs in town from a designer’s perspective. Yes, there is a need to be loud and clear – at least till the message sinks in, and people don’t look for an ashtray the moment they walk into a restaurant.

Sign at Coffee Day near Lavelle Road

And if they are going to be big and bold, can’t they be a little more interesting? Some of the signs I’ve seen are so bold, that they come close to rapping you on the knuckles.

So, if you run a business that requires you to display a "No Smoking" sign, here are a few tips.
– Don’t over-size the sign. If you want to draw attention, place smaller signs at different locations.
– Use an image / cartoon for visual relief. Use colour without making it a Diwali poster.
– Get the sign done by a graphic designer – you could even organize a small contest and ask design students in town to participate.
– Try and blend the sign with the kind of business you’re in – I think Pizza Hut has a sign that says "ONLY PIZZAS CAN SMOKE". This could be tough, but worth a try.

This one goes a little beyond the ordinary, with the addition of “Absolutely”

A designer friend I was chatting with came up with an interesting idea that goes beyond saying "No Smoking". He says he’d even include links of websites that help people who want to quit – or maybe, local helpline numbers that could be useful. Another idea he mentioned was a sign that took a design cue from a visual test chart used by opticians.
(The types become smaller and smaller till you get to the pay-off.)

Here are some links that you might find useful and inspiring…


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About Sharath Bhat 8 Articles
Sharath Bhat is a freelance advertising writer based in Bangalore. He blogs at

1 Comment

  1. In India only thing that works is the loudest possible signs. Small signs dont have the capacity to enter these peoples brains. It is high time loud signs alerted people. I wish there would a penatly for honking horns too to enable prevention of nosie pollution and defness. I wish the signs would be as loud to stop stupid people from honking. All musical and stupid horns should mandatorily removed from all vehicles and horns of 25 decibles should be installed for emergencies. Good on you minister Ramdoss for stopping smoking. We need some one like him to stop noise and visual pollution as well. Put large signs as many as you want inside the windows of your business to stop these mindless harmful practices.

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