Tobacco and Vape Shops
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.
Permitted Sampling of Products
The MCIAA allows the lighting of tobacco or the use of electronic delivery devices within the indoor area of a tobacco or vape shop “by a customer or potential customer for the specific purpose of sampling tobacco products.”
Tobacco Shop Defined
All of the following criteria must be met in order for a retail establishment to allow lighting of tobacco or the activation of electronic delivery devices for sampling purposes:
- The shop must have an entrance door opening directly to the outside.
- Greater than 90% of the shop’s gross revenue must be from the sale of tobacco, tobacco-related devices and electronic delivery devices.
- The tobacco shop cannot be a tobacco department or section of an individual business with a liquor, food or restaurant license.
Sign Posting Requirements
If a tobacco or vape shop chooses to allow sampling of lighted tobacco products or electronic delivery devices indoors, the proprietor must post a sign on or immediately inside of all shop entrances that states: “Smoking is prohibited, except in designated areas.” Also, a sign must be posted in the area where sampling is allowed that states “Smoking permitted” and/or shows the international smoking-permitted symbol.
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.
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.