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

Minnesota Clean Indoor Air Act (MCIAA)

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.

Public Health Issue

The United States Surgeon General states there is no risk-free level of secondhand smoke exposure. It is estimated that since 1965 approximately 2.5 million nonsmokers have died from health problems caused by secondhand smoke exposure. 

According to the CDC, e-cigarette aerosol (often called vapor) can contain harmful and potentially harmful substances including nicotine, ultrafine particles, flavoring chemicals, VOCs, aldehydes and heavy metals.

What is considered 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.

What is the definition of 'indoor area"?

“Indoor Area” means a space between a floor and a ceiling that is at least half 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.

Where is smoking prohibited?

Smoking is prohibited in virtually all indoor public places and indoor places of employment, including:

  • Bars, restaurants, and private clubs
  • Office and industrial workspaces
  • Retail stores
  • Common areas of rental apartment buildings, hotels and motels
  • Public transportation, including taxis
  • Work vehicles, if more than one person is present
  • Home offices with more than one on-site employees, or used as a place to meet or deal with customers—during work hours
  • Public and private schools, educational facilities
  • Auditoriums, arenas, meeting rooms
  • Day care premises
  • Health care facilities and clinics

Where is smoking permitted?

The MCIAA does not prohibit smoking in the following locations or circumstances:

  • Outdoor smoking, regardless of distance from building openings
  • Private places, such as private homes, residences or automobiles when they are not being used as a place of employment
  • Sleeping rooms of hotels and motels
  • Cabs of commercial motor vehicles that weigh over 26,000 pounds
  • Family farm buildings, farm trucks and equipment, if certain conditions are met
  • Patients of licensed residential healthcare facilities in designated separate, enclosed areas that meet applicable regulations
  • Patients in a locked psychiatric unit in a separated well-ventilated area, as approved by the treating physician
  • Tobacco product shops- when customers are sampling tobacco products
  • Approved scientific study participants
  • Traditional Native American ceremonies
  • Theatrical productions, that is, actors and actresses who are smoking as part of the theatrical performance
  • Disabled Veterans Rest Camp in Washington County

What are the responsibilities of proprietors?

Employers and facility managers play an important role in controlling smoking 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 refrain from smoking and to leave if they refuse to do so
  • Use lawful methods consistent with handling disorderly persons or trespassers for any person who refuses to comply after being asked to leave the premises.
  • Refrain from providing ashtrays and other smoking equipment
  • Refuse to serve noncompliant person

Is outdoor smoking or e-cigarette use addressed?

The MCIAA does not prohibit outdoor smoking or vaping, regardless of distance from building openings such as doors and windows. Smoke or vapor drifting in from outside of a building is not covered by the MCIAA. Some cities and counties have local ordinances that restrict smoking and vaping by entrances.

Compliance and Enforcement

The Minnesota Department of Health (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, local law enforcement has the authority to issue petty misdemeanor citations to proprietors or individuals who knowing fail to comply with the MCIAA.

Local Government Ordinances

Other governments retain the authority to adopt and enforce more stringent measures to protect individuals from secondhand smoke. For example, the federal government prohibits smoking in certain housing. 

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.

No Smoking Sign

Printable no smoking sign. No smoking sign (PDF)

Updated Thursday, 16-Sep-2021 11:19:33 CDT