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

Minnesota Clean Indoor Air Act (MCIAA) Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)

Are there penalties if a proprietor allows smoking in areas prohibited by the law?

Any proprietor, person, or entity that owns, leases, manages, operates, or otherwise controls the use of the area in which smoking is prohibited, and knowingly fails to comply with the provisions of the law is guilty of petty misdemeanor under criminal law. MDH also has the authority to take enforcement actions that may include monetary penalties up to $10,000. Local public health agencies have various enforcement tools as well under their own civil enforcement authority, including fines, potential license suspensions or revocations.

What can I do if I observe an MCIAA violation?

If you observe a violation of the MCIAA, you should notify management of the facility and ask that corrective action be taken to comply with the MCIAA. If violators are not willing to comply once given a fair opportunity to correct observed violations, MDH should be notified to pursue formal enforcement action. Please contact the Minnesota Department of Health at 651-201-4601 or by email at health.indoor@state.mn.us. You must speak directly with an MDH Indoor Air Unit staff-person to file an official MCIAA complaint.

Is smoking still allowed in designated smoking-permitted lounges and private offices that were approved for indoor smoking prior to October 1, 2007?

Smoking is prohibited in virtually all public places and places of work, with very few exceptions. Smoking lounges and private offices that met the requirements of the MCIAA prior to the FTB amendments are no longer compliant as of October 1, 2007. There are no grandfathering provisions in the law that would allow the continued operation of existing designated smoking-permitted areas.

Can smoking be allowed in a shelter that is located some distance away from the building?

The amended MCIAA prohibits smoking in all indoor areas of the state, except private homes and vehicles (when not being used as a workplace). Employee lounges are considered a place of employment as defined in the FTB amendments: “Place of employment includes, but is not limited to employee cafeterias, lounges…” As such, if it is your intention to provide shelter for smokers that complies with the new law, the structure must not meet the definition of an indoor area – it must, therefore, be an outdoor space. It can have a roof and floor, but the wall space (vertical planes of the perimeter) must be greater than 50% open or consist of standard window screen material. Actual windows (open or closed) are considered walls.

How does the Freedom to Breathe Act impact smoking on outdoor patios of bars and restaurants?

The amended MCIAA prohibits smoking in indoor areas of bars and restaurants. It does not regulate any aspect of outdoor smoking. If the patio in question has a floor and ceiling, it is considered an indoor space if more than 50% of the surface area of the wall space (vertical planes of the perimeter) is solid (including windows – open or closed). Standard window screen material does not count as a solid material.

If a proprietor chooses to allow outdoor smoking, can their servers wait on the patrons outside?

The MCIAA does not regulate outdoor smoking – regardless of distance from building openings like doors or windows. As such, there would be no restrictions for servers in outdoor areas.

Does the new smoking ban apply to support group meeting s, e.g. AA, NA etc and meeting facilities?

If a meeting is open to the public, the facility where the meeting is being held would be considered a public place. Smoking is prohibited in virtually all public places, with very few exceptions – the statute makes no exceptions for private clubs.

Will smoking be prohibited in the common areas of condominium and cooperative housing buildings?

Common areas of condominium and cooperative housing buildings are considered private residences. As such, smoking in these areas is unregulated.

What about smoke drifting from a private residence?

The MCIAA regulates the act of smoking within indoor public places and places of employment. The statute does not regulate smoke drifting from an area where smoking is unregulated – such as a private residence.

Is there certain distance you must be from a door or window to be allowed to smoke?

The FTB amendments to the MCIAA prohibit smoking throughout indoor areas of virtually all public places and places of employment. Outdoor smoking is completely unregulated by the MCIAA, regardless of distance from building openings such as windows and doorways. Some local smoking ordinances, however, do have “smoking setback” provisions. In this case the stronger ordinance would apply and be enforced on the local level.

Are casinos required to comply with the MCIAA?

Facilities that are located on tribal land are considered part of sovereign nations, and therefore, are not covered by state regulations such as the FTB amendments to the MCIAA. Establishments operated by tribal governments that are NOT located on tribal land are subject to state regulations

Is an employer required to provide an outdoor smoking area for employees?

The MCIAA does not require employers to provide areas for employees to smoke.

Are “smoking lounges” exempted from the MCIAA?

No. Although the amended MCIAA permits lighting of tobacco in retail tobacco shops by customers for sampling purposes, the MCIAA does not allow the lighting of tobacco (or other plant products intended for inhalation) in businesses established as dedicated “smoking lounges.”

Are there resources for workplaces to go smoke-free?

CDC Smoking and Tobacco Use, Consumer Summaries and Guides:

Updated Thursday, June 22, 2017 at 11:51AM