Freedom to Breathe FAQs

The Freedom to Breathe amendments to the Minnesota Clean Indoor Air Act went into effect on October 1, 2007. The purpose of the law is to protect employees and the public from the health hazards of secondhand smoke. For more information and fact sheets on how Freedom to Breathe applies to specific facilities, visit the Minnesota Deparment of Health's web site.

Are private businesses covered by the law?
Yes. Work places where there are two or more employees must be smoke-free.

Are designated smoking areas and/or indoor "smoking rooms" in businesses and other public places prohibited?
Yes. Smoking rooms and designated smoking areas were to be phased out by 10-1-07.

What are the responsibilities of proprietors?
In general, they are required to:

  • Post "No Smoking" signs at or near all public entrances;
  • Ask persons who smoke in prohibited area to refrain from smoking or require the person to leave the facility if they refuse to refrain from smoking;
  • Refrain from providing ashtrays and other smoking equipment;
  • Withhold service for noncompliant patrons.

Are there provisions in the law about smoking outside?
No. The Minnesota Clean Indoor Air Act does not regulate smoking outside of buildings regardless of the distance from a building or building opening. Property owners may create restrictions regarding smoking areas outside of their buildings on their property. Some counties and cities do prohibit smoking within a certain distance of building entrances and at parks and recreation areas.

Can cities and counties pass stronger smoking regulations?
Yes. Local governments can adopt more stringent measures to protect individuals from secondhand smoke.

Are there penalties if a proprietor allows smoking in areas prohibited by the law?
Yes. Any proprietor or person who owns or operates the use of the area in which smoking is prohibited and knowingly fails to comply with the law is guilty of a petty misdemeanor. The Minnesota Department of Health also has the authority to take enforcement actions that may include monetary penalties up to $10,000. Local public health agencies may also impose fines, license suspensions or revocations.

What can I do if I observe a violation?
If you observe a violation of the Minnesota Clean Indoor Air Act you should notify management of the facility and ask that corrective action be taken. If you feel that the situation is not resolved please contact the Minnesota Department of Health at 651-201-4601 or by e-mail at MDH also has a "Compliance Assistance Letter" available for the public.

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