Recently, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) proposed revisions to the Minnesota Clean Indoor Air Act (MCIAA) that establish slightly more stringent separation between smoking and nonsmoking sections in some restaurants and other workplaces by requiring a minimum ventilation standard. The proposal would phase in the implementation of these ventilation standards over three years AND basically exempt all existing restaurants.
By adopting this proposed ventilation Rule, MDH risks setting a new national precedent of state regulations that will institutionalize inadequate, unenforceable ventilation standards and unnecessary clean indoor air exemptions. In doing so, MDH is giving Philip Morris it's next dream brochure coming to a town near you.
The Minnesota Smoke-Free Coalition opposes the MDH proposed MCIAA Rule because it does not fully protect workers or the public by eliminating exposure to secondhand smoke in the workplace and other public spaces. Further, we believe that the proposed Rule poses a threat to future policies that would eliminate exposure to secondhand smoke in workplaces and other public spaces. Towards this end, we are calling on smoke-free advocates from around the nation to join us in opposition to this proposal.
Before adoption, the proposed Rule must be reviewed by an Administrative Law Judge. Comments on the proposed rule revisions will be accepted until 4:30 PM on JANUARY 2, 2002. These comments will inform and hopefully influence the Judge about the disaster these rules would ensue.
The Minnesota Smoke-Free Coalition needs state and national organizations from around the country to provide written comment on these rules. Below are some key messages you can use and attached is our position statement opposing the Rule revisions. For more information, please contact Coalition Advocacy Director Jeremy Hanson at 651-999-5281 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For details on the proposed Rule revisions, check out the MDH website at
The MDH proposed MCIAA Rule relies on weak, scientifically invalid ventilation standards. Volumes of credible scientific evidence prove that even the newest ventilation methods under ideal conditions are not capable of removing secondhand smoke and its toxic constituents from the air. The scientific conclusion is clear: Ventilation technology is not an adequate alternative to eliminating exposure to secondhand smoke to protect people's health. Ventilation is simply a tobacco industry ploy to stop smoke-free laws.
The MDH proposed MCIAA Rule introduces harmful, unnecessary, and confusing standards. The proposed Rule places increased restrictions only on "new" restaurants that do not exist today and existing restaurants remain largely unchanged. This revision will create an unequal playing field for otherwise similar restaurants. The proposed Rule also includes a long, phased-in implementation period. While some businesses are required to implement their changes in one year, other businesses are given three years to implement their different ventilation standard. There is no undue burden to a shorter implementation date and absolutely no financial burden to going smoke-free.
The MDH proposed MCIAA Rule will create enforcement nightmares. The Rule's new definitions, various ventilation standards, and multiple phase-ins will create serious enforcement problems. Few will know which standards should be applied to which workplaces. The new ventilation standards do not have adequate monitoring for compliance and local agencies often do not have the technical expertise to ensure enforcement of complicated ventilation systems. Without constant monitoring and enforcement, workers and the public would not be guaranteed even a minimum standard of protection the Rule seeks to employ.
Only smoke-free air fully protects people from the known health impacts of secondhand smoke. As many as 65,000 Americans die every year from secondhand exposure and the MDH proposed MCIAA Rule will do little to change that harm. The Coalition continues to support smoke-free workplace laws as the most effective way to protect the public from the death and disease caused by secondhand smoke.