Finally Pennsylvania's Smoking Ban Takes Effect Today..

September 11, 2008 - The law bans cigarettes, cigars and pipe smoking inside public places including restaurants, office buildings, schools, sports arenas, theaters and bus and train stations. The amended Clean Indoor Air Act introduced by state Senator Stewart Greenleaf, as Senate Bill 246 and signed into law by Gov. Ed Rendell on June 13, 2008. Senator Greenleaf, "This is a great victory, but it came as the result of much compromise - it had to. For 15 years Greenleaf had been attempting to get a statewide smoking ban passed in the Legislature and met with resistance from special interest groups and their sympathetic legislators. (Even though 80 percent of Pennsylvanians want a smoke-free work and play environment, said Pennsylvania State Health Department spokeswoman Holli Senior.) Greenleaf was finally able to get the measure voted on for the first time in the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee in January, 2008. Business owners and smokers who violate the new Pennsylvania Clean Indoor Air Act risk penalties ranging from $250 to $1,000.

Pennsylvania's law is not as strict as the other surrounding states and it comes after a bitter battle that left a bad taste in some people's mouths. Some of the compromises include: bars and taverns whose food sales comprise no more than 20 percent of gross annual sales are permitted to have smoking, even if the bar is connected to an eating area, as long as the eating area has a separate entrance and ventilation system. For casino owners smoking will be allowed on 25 percent of the gaming floor - 50 percent if economic hardship can be proven because of the smoking limitation.

Pennsylvania is the 25th state to go smoke free along with the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Senior noted that more than 20,000 Pennsylvania adults die each year from their own smoking and approximately 300,000 Pennsylvanians under the age of 18 die either directly or indirectly because of smoking. Nationally, it is estimated that between 1 million and 3 million adult non-smokers die each year from exposure to second-hand smoke, noted Senior. "Over $5 billion in annual health care costs in Pennsylvania are directly caused by smoking," said the state health department spokeswoman.

Related news briefs: Ed Rendell, governor of Pennsylvania wants to pay for providing health insurance and Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell is proposing an excise tax on tobacco...

References: Impending smoking ban has diners breathing easy by Patti Mengers,, 9/6/2008 and Ashtrays Put Away As Pa. Smoking Ban Takes Effect,, 9/11/2008.

Click on image to enlarge.. - Governor Rendell with signed bill to amend The Clean Air Indoor Act.