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“Governor Rendell Signs Bill Restricting Smoking in Most Public Places in Pennsylvania”

06-13-2008

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:                                                                  CONTACT:   

June 13, 2008                                                                                                  Chuck Ardo

                                                                                                                        717-783-1116

 

Governor Rendell Signs Bill
R
estricting Smoking in Most
Public Places in
Pennsylvania

Relevant Areas to be Smoke-Free in 90 Days

 

HARRISBURG – Governor Edward G. Rendell today signed into law the Clean Indoor Air Act, which will protect Pennsylvanians from the deadly health effects of secondhand smoke by prohibiting smoking in most public places, including restaurants, workplaces and a portion of casino floors.

 

“All Pennsylvanians will benefit from the persistence of advocates and legislators who refused to quit working until we had joined dozens of other states in banning smoking in most public places,” Governor Rendell said as he signed the law today in Ambler before an enthusiastic audience including advocates who have worked for years to enact the legislation.

 

“Smoking and secondhand smoke kills and costs our health care system billions of dollars in Pennsylvania. It only makes sense for us to attack this problem and the public overwhelmingly supports these protections. The members of the conference committee that developed this measure are to be congratulated on achieving a long sought compromise that will benefit the people of the Commonwealth.”

 

The smoking ban is an initiative from the Governor’s Prescription for Pennsylvania, a comprehensive health care reform plan which strives to make health care more affordable and accessible while improving quality.

 

A 2006 report from the U.S. Surgeon General documented the serious and deadly health effects of secondhand smoke on healthy non-smokers, which include developmental effects in children, heart disease in adults and cancer in sites beyond the lungs.

 

The legislation, Senate Bill 246, prohibits smoking in a public place or a workplace and lists examples of what is considered a public place. The bill allows for some exceptions, including a private residence (except those licensed as a child-care facility), a private social function where the site involved is under the control of the sponsor (except where the site is owned, leased, or operated by a state or local government agency) and a wholesale or retail tobacco shop. It also imposes penalties for those establishments not in compliance, as well as those individuals smoking in prohibited areas. 

 

Establishments will have a 90 day phase-in period to allow for necessary changes to come in to compliance with the new law. During this time, the Pennsylvania Department of Health will implement its plans for information, education and awareness to the general public and businesses about the requirements of the new legislation, and provide technical assistance to businesses in the implementation of no smoking policies.

 

In a signing letter to members of the General Assembly, the Governor noted that he shared the concerns of many citizens and some legislators that an even more comprehensive clean indoor air act can become law. He said he was particularly sympathetic to those citizens in Allegheny County, Scranton and other municipalities and believes it would be right and fair for state law to allow for the preservation of their forward-thinking local ordinances in addition to the ordinance adopted by the City of Philadelphia.

 

To learn more about this new legislation, visit www.health.state.pa.us, or for help in quitting smoking go to www.determinedtoquit.com or the helpline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669). For additional information on the Governor’s innovative Prescription for Pennsylvania health care reform plan, please visit www.rxforpa.com.

 

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The Rendell administration is committed to creating a first-rate public education system, protecting our most vulnerable citizens and continuing economic investment to support our communities and businesses.  To find out more about Governor Rendell’s initiatives and to sign up for his weekly newsletter, visit his Web site at: www.governor.state.pa.us.

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: The text of Governor Rendell’s signing letter is below.

 

To the Honorable General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania:

 

            Today I signed Senate Bill 246, The Clean Indoor Air Act.  This law is an important, long fought and necessary step toward protecting the health of millions of our citizens from the documented dangers of second hand smoke.  Pennsylvania has waited too long to join the ranks of the other dozens of states that have enacted indoor smoking bans.  The members of the conference committee are to be congratulated on a long sought compromise that is a quality product. Make no mistake, Senate Bill 246 will allow millions of Pennsylvanians the right to breathe easier. 

 

            Although I enthusiastically signed this bill, I do share the concerns of many of our citizens, and some legislators, who think we can and should do better. This law was many years in the making and the day will come when an even more comprehensive clean indoor air act will be the law of the land.  I am particularly sympathetic to those citizens in Allegheny County, Scranton and other municipalities who led the way on this public health issue, only to have their forward thinking ordinances overturned. It would be right and fair for state law to allow for the preservation of these forward thinking local ordinances in addition to the ordinance adopted by the City of Philadelphia.  This issue has not fallen on deaf ears and in signing this bill, I trust the General Assembly will work toward that end. 

 

Edward G. Rendell, Governor

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

SMOKE OUT

Businesses bracing for change

By MEGAN BOLLINGER Staff Intern

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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