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Pennsylvania's smoking ban is seen as a success nearly 5 years after it became law

Publication Date: 2013-04-21
  • Author:TOM KNAPP
  • Publication:Lancaster Online

On Sept. 10, 2008, Molly's Pub hosted a "smoke out" party to mourn "the death of smokers' rights" in Pennsylvania.

"Smoke 'em if you got 'em," Anthony Maglietta, owner of the Chestnut Street eatery, told patrons.

"I told everyone to bring anything that's legal," he said. "We'll smoke until midnight, and then it's all over."

Molly's wasn't alone in opposing the law, which went into effect the next day.

Nearly five years later, attitudes about Pennsylvania's Clean Indoor Air Act, which bans smoking in many public places, have changed.

"I don't hear any complaints, from smokers or people who are nonsmokers," Molly's Pub general manager Daniel Armitage says.

"I think it's a very positive thing," he says. "Everyone likes it. Even the people who smoke ... seem to enjoy coming into a clean, non-smoky place."

He laughs. "And I smoked for 35 years."

The law bans cigarette, cigar and pipe smoking — with some exceptions — in public places such as bars, restaurants, office buildings, schools, arenas, theaters and transit stations....

Pennsylvania isn't alone in banning smoking in public places, Ochs says — but the Pennsylvania law is considered weak by anti-smoking lobbies.

That's because Pennsylvania allows exceptions. In establishments that meet certain conditions, customers can light up at will.

Smoking may be permitted in bars where no one under the age of 18 is admitted and food sales make up less than 20 percent of profits, Ochs says.

Restaurants may provide smoking rooms if they meet those same conditions and provide separate entrances. Tobacco shops and cigar bars also may qualify for exceptions.

The good news, Ochs says, "is there are now fewer exceptions. We've had establishments contact us that said they've decided to go smoke-free."...

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