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News Summary

'Patchwork' of Pa. indoor smoking exemptions targeted

Publication Date: 1/2/2012
  • Author:Mary Wilson
  • Publication:NewsWorks

Pennsylvanians trying to drop their cigarette habit can have a tough time staying away from smoke in bars.

The state's Clean Indoor Air Act, in effect for about three years, exempts restaurants with liquor licenses from the indoor smoking ban if they report that food makes up less than 20 percent of their establishment's total annual sales.

Deborah Brown, head of the American Lung Association of the Mid-Atlantic, says the result is a regulatory patchwork in which people aren't sure where they can go if they don't want to be around secondhand smoke.

"A patchwork effect, I guess you could call it," she said. "Because you never know ... you could go into a restaurant thinking that 'Oh, it's a restaurant, it should be smoke-free,' and for whatever reason of the exemptions, it may not be," she said.

Brown says she's working with state Sen. Stewart Greenleaf, a Montgomery County Republican, on closing those loopholes.

Greenleaf has introduced legislation to repeal the exemptions in the past two sessions since the smoking ban was made law.

His bill has yet to make it out of committee.