Public Transportation - EH: Minnesota Department of Health

Public Transportation
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.

Public Transit Terminals

Smoking and the use of electronic delivery devices is not allowed in the indoor areas of public transportation terminals and bus or transit stops.

No Smoking in Public Transportation Vehicles

Employees and the general public are prohibited from smoking in public transportation vehicles when passengers are present. “Public transportation” includes vehicles such as: light rail, commuter trains, buses, taxis, vans, limousines and other for-hire vehicles. Rental vehicles are not included in this provision.

Private Smoking by Drivers

Drivers of public transportation vehicles may smoke inside the vehicle when it is being used for personal use. “Personal use” means that the vehicle is being used by the driver for personal purposes and no for-hire passengers are present. If the driver chooses to smoke in the vehicle, the driver must post a sign where passengers can see it stating that smoking occurs when the vehicle is being privately used.  

Responsibilities of Proprietors

Employers and facility managers play an important role in controlling smoking and electronic delivery device use in their place of business. In general, they are required to:

  • Make reasonable efforts to prevent indoor smoking
  • Post “No Smoking” signs
  • Ask person who smoke in prohibited areas to stop. If they refuse, the proprietor must ask the individual to leave
  • Use lawful means to handle any person who refuses to comply after being ask to leave
  • Refrain from providing ashtrays and other smoking equipment
  • Refuse to serve noncompliant persons

Outdoor Smoking

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

Other governments have 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 Wednesday, 24-Jul-2019 14:14:02 CDT