Pennsylvania’s ban against tobacco smoking in most public places, including restaurants and work environments, took effect yesterday (Sept. 11, 2008). Offenders face fines of between $250 and $1,000 if convicted of breaking the law.
The state Department of Health estimates that about 2 million adult Pennsylvanians, or 16 percent of the state’s population, are smokers. Extrapolated, that also means about 1,200 Sanatogans could have their smoking habits affected – for better or worse, depending on your point of view – by the ban.
State Health Secretary Dr. Calvin Johnson proclaimed the law’s implementation “a historic moment.” For a small group of smokers who work at Pottstown Memorial Medical Center, however, it was just another day. The hospital has long been smoke-free. During breaks they smoke outside, standing around a 5-gallon plastic bucket that sits at the bottom of a hill and the end of a driveway which empties onto Porter Road, just below the hospital’s helipad.