Tobacco Free Places

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In Minnesota, significant progress has been made to protect people from the harmful effects of tobacco use. However, despite a low overall smoking rate and many indoor tobacco-free spaces like restaurants and workplaces, tobacco is still a problem in Minnesota.

Many people are still exposed to secondhand smoke in places like

The risks of secondhand smoke include 

  • sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
  • asthma attacks
  • respiratory and ear infections in infants and children
  • stroke
  • heart disease
  • lung cancer in adults

41,00 adult deaths
400 infant deaths

Studies suggest that in the United States each year, secondhand smoke is responsible for 400 deaths among infants and 41,000 deaths among nonsmoking adults.

The Life-saving Benefits of Tobacco-free Places

In order for all Minnesotans to be protected from secondhand smoke, we need to come together and encourage more places to become tobacco-free.

By decreasing or eliminating exposure to secondhand smoke, tobacco-free policies have been known to contribute to fewer tobacco-related hospital visits, along with decreases in the number of heart attacks and sudden cardiac deaths.

Real Stories of Minnesotans Pulling Together

Leech Lake Tribal College, located in Cass Lake, Minnesota, wanted to create an on-campus environment that was safe, healthy and friendly while honoring their tribal customs and ceremonies. Prior to tackling this issue, the on-campus smoking rate was a staggering 90 percent. In order to pursue a healthier learning environment for their students, they established a commercial tobacco-free policy. This allowed them to continue using tobacco for traditional purposes while eliminating any type of tobacco use that was not used ceremonially. This policy was the first of its kind in Minnesota, and it supports students and faculty in reducing or eliminating their use of commercial tobacco. See the video at

steps for action

Speak Up

Reach out to your local elected officials to discuss the importance of tobacco-free places.

take a stand

Find bike advocacy groups to better learn some of the issues and challenges in your neighborhood. is a great starting point.

Seek support

Look for local groups or organizations that are working to create more tobacco-free places.Reach out and see how you can become involved.

combine efforts

Join groups such as the Lung Action Network and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, which will alert you of opportunities to contact your elected representatives to share your opinion about tobacco issues.

Lung Action Network:

Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids:

All mentions of “tobacco” in this fact sheet refer to commercial tobacco products, and not to the sacred, medicinal and traditional use of tobacco by American Indians and other communities.

  • Making Healthy Choices Possible for All Minnesotans

    The Center for Prevention at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota tackles the leading causes of preventable disease -- tobacco use, physical inactivity and unhealthy eating -- to increase health equity, transform communities and create a healthier state.