Northeast Times

Editorial: Let’s talk about a smoke-free state

Five years ago, Pennsylvania le­gis­lat­ors passed the Clean In­door Air Act, which elim­in­ated smoking in some, but not all, in­door work­places.

If you re­mem­ber, there were a bunch of ex­emp­tions. Smoking is still per­mit­ted in bars with 20 per­cent or less rev­en­ue from food sales. You can also smoke in casi­nos and private so­cial clubs.

State Rep. Mario Scav­ello, a Mon­roe County Re­pub­lic­an, wants to ex­pand the law by elim­in­at­ing all ex­emp­tions. Sen. Stew­art Green­leaf, a Mont­gomery County Re­pub­lic­an, has sponsored a sim­il­ar bill.

“The ef­fects of second­hand smoke have proven dan­ger­ous to all who are sur­roun­ded by it,” Scav­ello has said. “We shouldn’t be re­quir­ing em­ploy­ees in casi­nos, bars and oth­er in­dus­tries to face health risks as­so­ci­ated with second­hand smoke any longer; now is the time to ad­just our cur­rent law.”

New Jer­sey, Delaware, New York and Ohio are among 25 states with across-the-board bans.

The Amer­ic­an Can­cer So­ci­ety, Amer­ic­an Heart As­so­ci­ation and Amer­ic­an Stroke As­so­ci­ation are de­mand­ing that Scav­ello’s bill at least be giv­en a pub­lic hear­ing and a vote in the House Hu­man Ser­vices Com­mit­tee. We be­lieve that’s not too much to ask.

Let’s have the de­bate wheth­er Pennsylvani­ans can smoke in some bars and on casino floors.

Let’s dis­cuss wheth­er second­hand smoke is really a killer or if it’s a myth blown out of pro­por­tion by the anti-smoking crowd.

While ban­ning smoking in casi­nos, private so­cial clubs and all bars might seem reas­on­able, are sup­port­ers of the bill go­ing too far in pro­hib­it­ing people from light­ing up in hotel rooms, bar/res­taur­ant out­door patios and decks, truck stops with shower fa­cil­it­ies, to­bacco shops and ci­gar bars? Prob­ably. And, surely, nobody would take ser­i­ously a ban on smoking in private res­id­ences or at non­profit fun­draisers.

But let’s talk about the po­ten­tial of mak­ing people health­i­er, wheth­er they are smokers or pat­rons and em­ploy­ees of in­door work­places.

Hold a pub­lic hear­ing, have votes in com­mit­tee and the full House and Sen­ate, and do what’s best for the health of work­ers, cus­tom­ers and the bot­tom line of busi­nesses. ••

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