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News Summary

Excuses up in smoke? State senator looks to eliminate loopholes that allow smoking to continue in some public places

Publication Date: 2/25/2012
  • Author:Andrew M. Seder
  • Publication:Wilkes Barre Times-Leader

Dominick Ardo is a non-smoker, and he appreciates the smoke-free atmosphere inside his Plains Pub on Carey Street.

But he wishes all his competitors would play by the same rules and be required to prohibit smoking.

More than three years after the state’s Clean Indoor Air Act went into effect, Pennsylvania smokers are still puffing away inside nearly 3,000 bars and social clubs and every one of the state’s 10 operating casinos.

A state senator instrumental in crafting the 2008 Clean Indoor Air Act banning smoking in a majority of public places is trying to close loopholes and make all public places in Pennsylvania smoke-free.

The law went into effect on Sept. 11, 2008. Sen. Stewart Greenleaf, a Republican from Montgomery County, said the time has come to make the law more restrictive.

According to the state Department of Health, more than 2,800 establishments have been granted exemptions from the law. Of that total, 195 are in Luzerne County, more than double the 79 the county had the first year the law was in effect.

Ardo’s pub – one of the hundreds of businesses not granted exemptions because food sales account for about 40 percent of his business – has fared well under the new law.

Smoke-free appeal

Ardo said that while business trailed off right after the law was passed, he’s seen twice as many new patrons come in because of the smoke-free environment.

But he said perhaps he could see even more business if bars down the street weren’t able to permit smoking.

“I think it’s an unfair law. Make it fair. Have no gray area,” Ardo said.

Greenleaf agrees...