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House Proposes To Tighten Anti-Smoking Law

By Andrea Sears, Public News Service
for The Post Publications

HARRISBURG PA – Backers of proposed legislation to eliminate exemptions in Pennsylvania’s Clean Indoor Air Act say it would extend protections from the dangers of second-hand smoke in places like casinos, and also cover newer tobacco-related products such as e-cigarettes. Known as House Bill 1309, its potential changes were introduced Friday (May 5, 2017) by 18 state representatives whose sponsorship included both Republicans and Democrats.

The Clean Indoor Air law, passed in 2008, created smoke-free environments to protect some workers and others from the dangers of secondhand smoke, according to Brad Cary, manager for an advocacy group called the Breathe Free Pennsylvania Coalition. It also allowed many exceptions to the indoor smoking ban; some remaining bars and restaurants that allow smoking, private clubs, and casinos are among exempted locations, he said.

The bill would eliminate many of them, and also allow local governments to enforce even stronger anti-smoking ordinances, should they choose, Cary said. “Why should others be exposed … when we could enact a law that would strengthen what we currently have on record and cover everybody; a full, comprehensive law?” he asked.

Advocates claim tobacco is the leading cause of preventable deaths nationwide, and every year second-hand smoke kills about 42,000 non-smokers nationally. Pennsylvania spends more than $6.3 billion annually on smoking-related health care costs, they added.

The proposal is being supported by a coalition members that include the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network, and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

Photo from Public News Service via Flickr

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