Bars and Restaurants
Minnesota Clean Indoor Air Act
The Freedom to Breathe (FTB) provisions amended the Minnesota Clean Indoor Air Act (MCIAA) further protect employees and the public from the health hazards of secondhand smoke. These provisions went into effect on October 1, 2007. In 2019, the MCIAA was amended again to expand the definition of smoking to include vaping, the use of electronic delivery devices (also known as e-cigarettes or vapes). The amendment is effective on August 1, 2019.
Definition of "Smoking"
The MCIAA defines smoking as inhaling, exhaling, burning or carrying any lighted or heated cigar, cigarette, pipe or any other lighted or heated product containing, made or derived from nicotine, tobacco, marijuana, or other plant intended for inhalation. As of August 1, 2019, this definition includes carrying or using an activated electronic delivery device.
Definition of "Indoor Area"
“Indoor Area” means a space between a floor and a ceiling that is 50% enclosed by walls, doorways or windows (open or closed) around the perimeter. A wall includes retractable dividers, garage doors, plastic sheeting or any other temporary or permanent physical barrier. A (standard) window screen is not a wall.
Indoor Smoking is Not Permitted
Smoking and using electronic delivery devices is prohibited in all indoor areas within bars and restaurants. Special indoor smoking rooms and enclosed smoking shacks outside of restaurants are not permitted. There are no exceptions to this law.
Responsibilities of Proprietors
Employers and facility managers continue to play an important role in controlling smoking inside of their business. In general, they are required to:
- Make reasonable efforts to prevent indoor smoking
- Post “No Smoking” signs
- Ask person who smoke indoors to stop and leave if they refuse to do so
- Use lawful methods consistent with handling individuals who refuse to comply
- Refrain from providing ashtrays and other smoking equipment
- Refuse to serve noncompliant persons
The MCIAA does not prohibit outdoor smoking, regardless of the distance from building openings such as doors or windows. The law does not address the drift of smoking coming from the outside. Some cities and counties have local ordinances that restrict smoking by entrances.
Compliance and Enforcement
MDH has compliance authority over the MCIAA and may delegate compliance activities to local government. Complaints about alleged violations of the MCIAA can be directed to the MDH Indoor Air Unit at the contact information listed at the end of this factsheet. Failure to comply with the MCIAA can lead to enforcement action, including up to a $10,000 fine.
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 have the authority to adopt and enforce more stringent measures to protect individuals from secondhand smoke.
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.