On this page:
- New Mayo Clinic study confirms smoke-free laws save lives
- Minnesota Clean Indoor Air Act FAQs
- Secondhand Smoke 101
- What does the US Surgeon General want everyone to know about secondhand smoke?
- Learn More: Links
Mayo Clinic researchers have amassed additional evidence that secondhand smoke kills and smoke-free workplace laws save lives. Their research shows that the incidence of heart attacks and sudden cardiac deaths was cut in half among Olmsted County residents after a smoke-free ordinance took effect.
“The study shows that everyone, especially people with known coronary artery disease, should avoid contact with secondhand smoke. They should have no – literally no – exposure to secondhand smoke because it is too dangerous to their health,” said Dr. Richard Hurt, director of Mayo Clinic’s Nicotine Dependence Center and the study lead.
The study draws data from the Rochester Epidemiology Project, a long-term, collaborative medical records project among health care providers in Olmsted County. The project makes Mayo Clinic one of the few places in the world where retrospective population-based studies are possible and allows researchers to zero in on the frequency of certain conditions.
The study’s conclusions on heart attacks echo similar findings from other states. The findings on sudden cardiac death are the first of their kind in the nation.
The results only add to the overwhelming scientific evidence that comprehensive smoke-free laws effectively help reduce exposure to secondhand smoke and ultimately reduce tobacco’s harm in our state. They also remind us of the positive impact and life-saving benefits smoke-free laws have for all of us.
Survey after survey has shown a strong majority of Minnesotans support smoke-free policies and recognize secondhand smoke as a serious health risk. Your continued advocacy for tobacco-free policies will help to build a healthier Minnesota.
45% Decrease in Heart Attacks
50% Decrease in Sudden Cardiac Death
The population-based study showed that during the 18 months before Olmsted County's first smoke-free law for restaurants was passed in 2002, the regional incidence of heart attack was 212.3 cases per 100,000 residents.
In the 18 months following a comprehensive smoke-free ordinance in 2007, in which all restaurants and workplaces became smoke-free, that rate dropped to 102.9 per 100,000 residents - a decrease of about 45 percent. During these two time periods, the incidence of sudden cardiac death fell from 152.5 to 76.6 per 100,000 residents - a 50 percent reduction.
Adult smoking dropped 23 percent during the same time frame. The rates of other risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and obesity remained stable or increased.
The results of the first medical study to measure the health impact of the new law were released in March 2008. This study was a joint project of the University of Minnesota Cancer Center and ClearWay Minnesota. The participants were all nonsmokers who work in bars, restaurants or bowling alleys where people used to smoke. To be eligible for the study, the participants could not live with a smoker or be exposed to secondhand smoke anywhere but at work.
The study measured the levels of tobacco-specific substances in the workers’ bodies. Urine samples were tested prior to the new law’s implementation on October 1, 2007, and again four to six weeks after the smoke-free law took effect.
When nonsmokers breathe tobacco smoke, their bodies absorb nicotine. Most of the nicotine breaks down into a chemical called cotinine. The results of the study show that levels of cotinine decreased by 83 percent after the participants’ workplaces became smoke-free. Another significant finding is that levels of NNAL, a byproduct of a lung cancer-causing toxin found in tobacco smoke, decreased by 85 percent.
The study concludes that Minnesota’s smoke-free law has had a significant impact in reducing exposure and absorption of cancer causing chemicals and nicotine in hospitality workers.
What is the Minnesota Clean Indoor Air Act?
This is our state law that regulates where indoor smoking is permitted in Minnesota. It was first passed in 1975. It was amended in 2002 and 2007.
What is the Freedom to Breathe Act?
The Freedom to Breathe Act is the popular name for a a group of amendments to the Minnesota Clean Indoor Air Act. These amendments were passed by the legislature in spring 2007 and took effect October 1, 2007. The changes eliminated loopholes that had permitted smoking in places where people work such as bars and restaurants. Smoking is now prohibited in virtually all indoor workplaces and public places in Minnesota.
Where is smoking prohibited?
Smoking is prohibited in all places of employment where two or more people work, or volunteer to do what is normally paid work. Smoking is also prohibited in public places, on public transportation and at public meetings.
Indoor smoking is prohibited in:
- Bars and restaurants
- Private clubs ( Elks, VFW, American Legion, etc.)
- Offices, stores and factories
- Public transportation (including taxis)
- Vehicles used for work (if more than one person is present)
- Home offices (with one or more on-site employees, or if used as a place to meet or deal with customers).
Where is smoking still allowed?
Indoor smoking is still allowed in:
- Private homes and vehicles (not in use as a place of employment)
- Hotel and motel guest rooms (if the hotel or motel permits smoking in designated guest rooms)
- Tobacco shops (only to sample tobacco products)
- Buildings on family farms (with no more than two non-family employees)
- Cabs of heavy commercial vehicles over 26,000 pounds
- Certain psychiatric settings and scientific studies
- Separately ventilated smoking rooms in nursing homes (adult residents are the only ones permitted to smoke)
- Cabs of farm vehicles and construction equipment
- Theatrical performances (by actors only as part of a performance)
- Traditional Native American ceremonies
- The disabled veterans rest camp in Washington County.
Does our state law cover smoking outdoors?
Minnesota's smoke-free law, the Minnesota Clean Indoor Air Act only regulates indoor smoking. It does not regulate smoking outdoors. Smoking that takes place outdoors is legal under our state law, even if the smoke drifts into a building through an open door or window.
Local governments retain the power to adopt stronger smoking laws. Currently there are no city or county smoking ordinances in Dodge, Goodhue, Rice or Steele counties. Goodhue County has a policy restricting smoking to designated places on the grounds of county-owned buildings.
Business owners can establish a smoking policy for outdoor areas of their property such as an outdoor dining area at a restaurant. They can prohibit smoking on their property or limit smoking to designated outdoor places.
How is Minnesota's smoke-free law enforced?
A violation of the new law is a petty misdemeanor with a fine of up to $300. The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) may levy administrative penalties up to $10,000 per violation against businesses that violate the law. A bar or restaurant that violates the law may have its license suspended or revoked.
Your local Public Health Service provides assistance to the public, local businesses, and local law enforcement agencies with questions or concerns about potential violations. Call the number below for your county:
|Dodge County Public Health||(507) 635-6150|
|Goodhue County Public Health Service||
|Rice County Public Health||
Faribault: (507) 332 -6111
Northfield: (507) 645-9576 ext. 6111
Lonsdale: (507) 744-5185
|Steele County Public Health Nursing||(507) 444-7650|
What are the responsibilities of proprietors?
Businesses must post “no smoking” signs at all entrances. Businesses must not provide smoking equipment such as ash trays or matches in indoor areas.
Proprietors must ask a person smoking in a prohibited area to stop smoking. If the person refuses to stop smoking, the proprietor must ask the person to leave. If the person refuses to leave the business, the proprietor should resolve the situation by calling local law enforcement for assistance with a disorderly person who is trespassing.
If a business is a bar or restaurant, the law prohibits serving food or beverages to a person who is smoking indoors in violation of the law.
Where can I get more information about the law?
You can also visit www.freshairmn.org to learn more about the law, access resources to help your workplace go smoke-free, order free materials and learn about quit-smoking services available to all Minnesotans.
What is secondhand smoke?
Secondhand smoke is the smoke the smoker exhales plus the smoke from the burning tip of a tobacco product such as a cigarette. Secondhand smoke is a complex mixture of over 4,000 chemicals.1 At least 250 of these chemicals are toxic.2 Eleven of these chemicals are known to cause cancer in humans. 3 A small sample of the chemicals in secondhand smoke includes: ammonia, arsenic, benzene, lead, formaldehyde, hydrogen cyanide, and carbon monoxide. 1
Is it safe to breathe secondhand smoke?
Science has proven there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke. 4
What is the health cost?
About 3,000 nonsmokers die every year in America from lung cancer caused by exposure to secondhand smoke. About 46,000 nonsmokers die every year from heart disease caused by exposure to secondhand smoke.5
What is the risk to my health?
Studies have shown that just 30 minutes of exposure to secondhand smoke can cause significant changes in the function of the heart and blood vessels of nonsmokers. 6 Secondhand smoke affects your heart and blood vessels in many different ways. Nonsmokers who are exposed to secondhand smoke at home or at work increase the risk of heart disease by about 25 - 30%. Exposure to secondhand smoke increases the risk of lung cancer by 20 - 30%. 4
Do "no smoking sections" give protection from secondhand smoke? ?
A study of 17 sites with separate smoking and no smoking areas showed that there was about 50% as much smoke in the no smoking section, as there was in the smoking section.7 There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke. 4 Employees in places like restaurants and bars where smoking is permitted are exposed to secondhand smoke every day they go to work.
Do ventilation systems give protection from secondhand smoke?
The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), the organization that sets the engineering standards for ventilation systems that are used world wide, has studied the issue of indoor smoking. Their study concluded, "At present, the only means of effectively eliminating health risk associated with indoor exposure is to ban smoking activity." 8
What is the best way to protect people at work?
According to the U. S. Surgeon General , our nation's top public health official, smoke-free environments are the only approach that effectively protects nonsmokers from the dangers of secondhand smoke. 4
The Surgeon General is our nation’s top public health official. On June 27, 2006 he issued a massive new report, The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke. This report focuses on research done over the last 20 years. Here are some comments from the Surgeon General about the findings of the new report:
“...science has proven that there is NO risk-free level of secondhand smoke exposure.”
“Breathing secondhand smoke for even a short time can damage cells and set the cancer process in motion. Brief exposure can have immediate harmful effects on blood and blood vessels, potentially increasing the risk of a heart attack.”
“Nonsmokers, who are exposed to secondhand smoke, at home or at work, increase their risk of developing lung cancer by 20 percent to 30 percent.”
“Nonsmoking adults who are exposed to secondhand smoke at home or at work increase their risk of developing heart disease by 25 to 30 percent.”
“An important new conclusion of this Report is that smoke-free environments are the ONLY approach that effectively protects nonsmokers from the dangers of secondhand smoke.”
Link to the Surgeon General's Report: