Minnesota Law and Smoking in Lodging

City and County Laws

Is it Discriminatory to Adopt a Smoke-Free Policy?

References

 

“What Does Minnesota Law Say Concerning Smoking in Lodging Establishments?”

State law allows management to make their entire establishment smoke-free. The Minnesota Clean Indoor Air Act (MCIAA) prohibits smoking in all common areas of lodging establishments such as restaurants, bars, lobbies, hallways, laundry rooms, meeting rooms, and indoor swimming pool areas.1 For more information about the MCIAA, contact the Minnesota Department of Health: www.health.state.mn.us/freedomtobreathe.

The information below is gathered from Tracking Tobacco Laws published by the Public Health Law Center.

General Rule: Smoking is prohibited in hotel lobbies, common areas, meeting rooms, banquet rooms, registration desks, and indoor swimming pool areas. Minn. Stat. § 144.414, subd. 1; Minn. R. 4620.1300.

Exceptions:

  • Smoking is permitted in hotel or motel sleeping rooms rented to one or more guests. Minn. Stat. § 144.4167, subd. 3(2). Lodging operators may leave the decision about whether to smoke in sleeping rooms up to guests; designate nonsmoking and smoking-permitted rooms and assign guest rooms accordingly; or establish a smoke-free policy for an establishment.

    Some local governments have removed this exemption. Beltrami County, for example, prohibits smoking in guest rooms in hotels and motels, rented or leased cabins at resorts, and dormitory rooms. Beltrami County Smoke Free Ordinance No. 38A, sec. 3, subd. 6.
  • Smoking is prohibited in any hotel sleeping room designated by a lodging operator or by a local law as smoke-free. Innkeepers must post signs conspicuously in all smoke-free sleeping rooms stating that smoking is not permitted. Minn. Stat. § 327.742, subds. 1, 3. If management establishes a smoke-free policy for an entire building, it must post this policy at the main entrances.

Enforcement Agency: The Minnesota Department of Health is the lead enforcement agency and may delegate enforcement activities to city or county health departments. Lodging operators who observe violations are responsible for asking people to refrain from smoking in designated nonsmoking areas. Local government enforces restrictions under local ordinances.

Penalties: Violations are petty misdemeanors. The Minnesota Department of Health may issue fines up to $10,000 by administrative penalty order. Anyone convicted of violating the rule against smoking in a nonsmoking room may be required to reimburse the innkeeper for actual costs incurred to restore the room to its previolation condition, including a service charge of $30, and may be subject to a civil penalty up to $100. Minn. Stat. § 327.742, subds. 2, 2a.

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"Are There Any City or County Laws Regarding Smoking in Lodging Establishments?"

Beltrami County prohibits smoking in guest rooms in hotels and motels, rented or leased cabins at resorts, and dormitory rooms. Beltrami County Smoke Free Ordinance No. 38A, sec. 3, subd. 6.

Major cities in Beltrami County (all lodging establishments in these cities will be smoke free!):

  • Bemidji
  • Blackduck
  • Funkley
  • Kelliher
  • Solway
  • Tenstrike
  • Turtle River
  • Wilton

“Is it Discriminatory to Designate an Entire Building or Property as Smoke-Free?”

No. Smoking is not a protected activity or right. An individual’s status as a smoker is not a protected category or recognized disability.2 A smart decision is to implement a policy based on the activity of smoking and not an individual’s status as a smoker. Write the policy so that a person who smokes can stay at your establishment, but he or she must refrain from smoking in the building or other areas that are included in the policy.

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References

  1. Minnesota Department of Health website, 2010. http://www.health.mn.us/divs/eh/indoorair/mciaa/ftb/index.html
  2. Graff, Samantha K. “There is No Constitutional Right to Smoke.” Produced by the Tobacco Control Legal Consortium. 2008. www.tclconline.org/resourcesTCLC.html

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