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News Summary

Editorial: Pa. Smoking Ban

Publication Date: 3/3/2008
  • Author:Editorial
  • Publication:Philadelphia Inquirer

It shouldn't be too difficult to combine the best ideas from the separate versions of an indoor smoking ban approved by House and Senate lawmakers in Harrisburg seven months ago.

Yet the two sides can't reach a compromise. What's the holdup?

There's a tug of war taking place in the state capital...

Back in Harrisburg, the House offers the best smoke-free measure, championed by State Rep. Mike Gerber (D., Montgomery). It prohibits smoking in most workplaces, including restaurants, bars and casinos.

By contrast, the Senate measure is riddled with exceptions for the casinos, American Legion halls and similar clubs.

Even worse, the Senate voted to preempt local communities from enacting more protective ordinances, such as Philadelphia's successful smoke-free law. That would reverse important clean-air standards now safeguarding thousands of city workers and patrons of dining and entertainment spots...

At the very least, the law should allow local - more enlightened and less influenced - municipalities to pass their own smoking regulations.

But lawmakers also should remember that one of their duties is to protect the public. Employees in bars and casinos shouldn't be forced to die from a law that allows secondhand smoke.