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. ••