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Smoke Out

  This is an article talking about the potential smoking ban in PA.  It still needs to be signed by Gov. Ed Rendell, but it sounds like the bill will pass.  The article was found in the Warren Times-Observer on June 12, 2008 at the following address …. http://timesobserver.com/page/content.detail/id/502125.html?nav=5006


Businesses bracing for change


POSTED: June 12, 2008
Pennsylvania residents will no longer be able to light up after a meal at their favorite restaurant.

A compromise bill banning smoking in most public places was approved by the state Senate on Tuesday. It had been approved earlier by the state House. It now goes to Gov. Ed Rendell, who has said he will sign the legislation. It will be effective in 90 days.

Local restaurant owners and managers had mixed reactions to the bill on Wednesday.

Monte Culbertson, owner of Snuffy’s Cafe and Lounge, said his primary concern isn’t the effect the new law will have on his business. He worries that exceptions in the bill will give an unfair advantage to other establishments.

“As long as they are not giving exceptions, I’m in favor of it,” said Culbertson.

The bill would ban smoking in enclosed or substantially enclosed areas, but allowing establishments with up to 20 percent of their annual sales in food to continue to permit smoking. Hotels would be able to have 25 percent of their rooms designated as smoking. Smoking would also be permitted in up to 25 percent of a casino floor or 50 percent of a casino floor, if the casino can prove to the state Department of Revenue that the smoking ban is harmful to its business. Designated outdoor smoking areas at sports events or recreation facilities, theater or performance establishments, private clubs, nursing homes, cigar bars, tobacco promotion events, and private homes would not be affected by the law.

Some local restaurants have already banned smoking, ahead of the new state law.

The Applebees restaurant at Warren Commons has been smoke-free since June 1. According to General Manager Erin Lichtenfels, the restaurant made the decision to go smoke-free and is serving as a test for other Applebees restaurants.

Lichtenfels feels that so far the transition to no smoking has gone smoothly.

“We haven’t seen a drop-off in business. We get many positive comments from customers,” said Lichtenfels.

The American Cancer Society has supported the bill since its initial introduction. However, Diane Phillips, director of government relations for the Pennsylvania region, believes that the bill doesn’t go far enough.

“Were happy it passed because it covers a majority of Pennsylvania, but there are still some exceptions,” said Phillips.

Phillips believes that smoking in any enclosed area should be banned without exceptions.

“As a consumer, we can go to other places, but for people who work there, they have no choice but to breath in secondhand smoke for eight- hour shifts.”

Individual violators can be fined up to $250 for the first offense, up to $500 for a second offense if it is within a year of the first, and up to $1,000 for a third offense if it is within a year of the second.

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