May 26, 2017 by Robert Mills

A new bill is being introduced in Pennsylvania that seeks to ban smoking indoors across all establishments. The state’s 2008 Clean Indoor Act banned smoking in a variety of establishments across retail and public buildings but included some exceptions. Many experts have called the law insufficient and weak because of the exceptions, pointing out to the presence of more comprehensive anti-smoking laws in neighboring regions.

The new bill being sponsored by Republican legislator Stewart Greenleaf along with Democratic legislators James Brewster and Jay Costa is aiming to close these loopholes. Greenleaf claims that the exceptions make it tough to implement the anti-smoking law effectively in the state.

A companion bill was introduced in the House of Representatives by Matthew Baker who is he chairman of the State House Health Committee. This bill seeks to remove the exceptions present in the law, and also ban the use of electronic cigarette inside bars and casinos, among other establishments. The only exclusions mentioned are cigar shops and private clubs.

One of the largest casinos operating in the state, Rivers Casino has refused to comment on the issue stating that decisions with regards to smoking inside casino facilities were the responsibility of the State Legislature. Under existing law, casinos have created dedicated smoking and non-smoking areas on the gaming floors. Other states require the casinos to provide separate smoking lounges.

Casinos typically resist a smoking ban for gambling floors citing a negative impact on revenue. A West Virginia casino Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort in Chester suffered revenue loss as a result of the government’s decision to ban smoking in 2015, according a filing with Securities and Exchange Commission made by its parent company. It expects the losses to continue.

In a statement Baker said

The U.S. surgeon general has stated that there is no safe level of secondhand smoke. It’s a risk factor for cancer, heart disease and lung disease. All employees should be able to work in a smoke-free environment. As chairman of the health committee, I would like to see that happen.

His statement pointed out that tobacco was the top reason for preventable death in the country, and further secondhand smoke kills around 42,000 nonsmokers through exposure every year.

Both bills have received bipartisan support. Baker’s proposal has also received support from numerous heath advocacy organizations including the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association, and the American Lung Association.