Minnesota Clean Indoor Air Act: Freedom to Breathe - EH: Minnesota Department of Health

Minnesota Clean Indoor Air Act (MCIAA) Smoking by Patients in Locked Psychiatric Units

The Freedom to Breathe (FTB) provisions amended the Minnesota Clean Indoor Air Act (MCIAA) to further protect employees and the public from the health hazards of secondhand smoke. The FTB amendments became effective October 1, 2007.

The MCIAA describes where smoking is prohibited, outlines the responsibilities of employers, managers and other persons in charge and lists exemptions that affect their workplaces and facilities.

Definition of "Smoking"

“Smoking” means inhaling or exhaling smoke from any lighted cigar, cigarette, pipe, or any other lighted tobacco product or plant product. Smoking also includes carrying a lighted cigar, cigarette, pipe or any other lighted tobacco or plant product intended for inhalation.

Definition of "Indoor Area"

“Indoor Area” means all space between a floor and a ceiling that is bounded by walls, doorways, or windows, whether open or closed, covering more than 50 percent of the combined surface area of the vertical planes [wall space] constituting the perimeter of the area. A wall includes any retractable divider, garage door, or other physical barrier, whether temporary or permanent. A [standard] window screen is not a wall.

Prohibited Smoking

Minnesota Statutes, Section 246.0141, prohibits the possession or use of tobacco by patients, staff, guests and visitors “on the grounds or in a state regional treatment center, the Minnesota Security Hospital, the Minnesota sex offender program, or the Minnesota extended treatment options
program”.

Permitted smoking

With the exception of the facilities and circumstances described above, smoking by patients in a locked psychiatric unit may be allowed if all of the following criteria are met:

  1. The administrator of the program must establish a policy that allows the treating physician to approve smoking if, in their professional opinion, the benefits to be gained in obtaining patient cooperation with treatment outweigh the negative impacts of smoking
  2. Smoking may only be allowed in a designated, separated, well-ventilated area in the unit
  3. Smoking must be prohibited throughout all indoor areas of the unit, other than in approved, designated smoking rooms
  4. A sign must be posted at the entrance to the lockedĀ  psychiatric unit that states: “Smoking is prohibited, except in designated areas”
  5. A sign must be posted at the entrance to designated smoking rooms that displays the international smoking-permitted symbol or states: “Smoking Permitted.”

Outdoor smoking

The MCIAA does not regulate outdoor smoking, regardless of distance from building openings such as doors and windows.

Compliance and enforcement

MDH has compliance authority over the MCIAA and may delegate compliance activities to local units of government. MDH, a local board of health or any affected person can request a court order directing a repeat MCIAA violator to stop.

In addition to the compliance authority provided to MDH and local units of government, local law enforcement has the authority to issue petty misdemeanor citations to proprietors or individuals who knowingly fail to comply with the MCIAA.

Local government ordinances

Local governments retain the authority to adopt and enforce more stringent measures to protect individuals from secondhand smoke.

Retaliation prohibited

An employer, manager or other person in charge cannot fire, refuse to hire, penalize, discriminate or retaliate against an employee, applicant, or customer who exercises any right to a smoke-free environment provided under the MCIAA.

Updated Tuesday, June 20, 2017 at 02:54PM