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News Summary

State Senate to take up smoking ban bill

Publication Date: 6/16/2007
  • Author:Marc Levy
  • Publication:The Morning Call

The first major test for a broad smoking ban in Pennsylvania could come next week, when senators will have to decide whether the state's casinos and bars should go smoke-free, or let gamblers and drinkers light up inside.

They'll also have to settle on a legal definition for cigar bars, which are likely to win an exemption, and decide whether the government should be able to dictate the rules of a private country club or American Legion post.

Calls have been pouring in to senators from lobbyists and business owners ahead of Monday, when senators are slated to debate a bill that, as it is written now, would ban smoking in just about every public space and workplace in Pennsylvania.

''There are amendments flying every which way and the biggest debate is over the casinos,'' said Sen. Wayne Fontana, D-Allegheny.

The bill, written by Sen. Stewart Greenleaf, R-Montgomery, has the best chance to become the first smoking ban legislation to pass either the House or Senate. Twenty-seven other states have approved a ban of some sort, and many senators appear to support Greenleaf's bill if some exemptions are added.

Regardless of what happens, any bill must also pass the House, where several similar bills have been introduced. Gov. Ed Rendell has said he supports the broadest ban.