Greetings from the Capitol!
Soon all bars, restaurants, private clubs, and any business with employees across the state will become smoke free. That means many things will change. As the date approaches a quick recap of what the law says might be useful.
The bill which was passed by the legislature on May 12 and signed into law on May 16 by Governor Pawlenty will go into effect on October 1, 2007. The law prohibits smoking in a public place or, at a public meeting, in a place of employment, or in public transportation.
There are a few exceptions to the law. Some of the exceptions include the family farm, farm vehicles and construction equipment, a disabled veteran's rest camp in Washington county and private homes, residences, and automobiles. Smoking is also still allowed outside of restaurants, bars, and bingo halls.
Penalties for not complying with the new law vary. For business owners who knowingly fail to comply with the new law will be guilty of a petty misdemeanor. Likewise, anyone who smokes in an area where smoking is prohibited is also guilty of a petty misdemeanor. There is also a protection against retaliation written into the law for anyone, either a worker or a member of the public, who reports anyone who is smoking in a smoke free area.
There was concern that the statewide smoking ban would have a negative consequence on lawful gamble around the state. Included in the law is the requirement for the Gambling Control Board, in cooperation with the commissioner of revenue, to report back to the legislature and governor before March 31, 2008 any impact the smoking ban has had on lawful gambling.
And one last note of interest: counties and cities still have the option of enforcing a stricter ban on smoking. If a city or county feels the statewide smoking ban does not go far enough in protecting people they can choose to enact and enforce more stringent measures.
If you have any questions or concerns about the smoking ban, you may contact the Department of Health at 651-201-4601.
As always you can contact me with any legislative question or concern. I can be reached at the Capitol by calling 651-296-4946, and by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also send mail to my office which is located at 277 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155.