Smoking In Your Own Car Is Still Illegal in One Minnesota County
If you light up-- even in your own vehicle-- you'll still be breaking the law in one Minnesota county.
I'll preface this by saying I don't smoke, and never have. But even I was a little surprised how far one new law went when it comes to prohibiting places you can legally smoke-- like inside your own car.
Smoking inside public places has been banned in the Land of 10,000 Lakes for 15 years already. The Minnesota Clean Indoor Air Act (MCIAA) went into effect on October 1st, 2007, and prohibited smoking in virtually all indoor public places.
It was amended in 2019 to expand the definition of smoking to include vaping, and the use of electronic delivery devices (also known as e-cigarettes or vapes.) Similarly, over in my home state of Wisconsin, the Smoke-Free Indoor Air Law went into effect on July 5th, 2010 which did the same thing.
But earlier this year, one county here in Minnesota took that smoking ban a step further, thanks to an ordinance county commissioners passed back in July that took effect late this summer and is still in effect now. The new Smoking and Commercial Tobacco Use Ordinance passed in July in Ramsey County and officially took effect back on August 26th. KARE-11 has more on what it still prohibits:
Smoking and commercial tobacco product use are not allowed at any time by any person on any property that is owned, leased, rented, contracted or otherwise used or controlled by Ramsey County. This prohibition includes but is not limited to, all facilities; grounds; parking lots; work areas, vehicles and equipment; walkways, paths and trails; park and recreation areas, lands and bodies of water; public golf courses, playgrounds, beaches, swimming pools, nature areas and recreation centers.
And, yes, KARE-11 says the new ban also EXTENDS TO YOUR OWN PRIVATE VEHICLE, if it's parked on county property, as well as banning smoking within 25 feet of exits, entrances and ventilation intakes at public spaces.
Now, this ordinance likely hasn't affected too many Minnesotans, seeing as the Minnesota Department of Health's latest statistics note that as of 2020, only 13.8% of state residents said they were smokers. And seeing as I'm not a smoker, and I don't live in Ramsey County, this new ban hasn't affected me personally.
But I'm still a little surprised that you cannot even sit in your own vehicle-- even during the cold winter months when your windows are likely rolled up-- and light up as long as you're parked on Ramsey County property. Which is where both Saint Paul and Falcon Heights (home, of course, of the Minnesota State Fair) are located. What do you think?