"Any state-level tobacco control legislation should contain language expressly allowing local government authority to take stronger measures if necessary. Local control should be viewed as a public health tool to be protected and encouraged."Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
Actions Speak Louder than Words, 1996
As of September 11, 2008, all non-hospitality workplaces in Pennsylvania are 100% smokefree. Unfortunately, the law permits smoking in bars, enclosed bar areas of restaurants, and casinos. Employees and patrons in these establishments will remain exposed to secondhand smoke. Also, the law is preemptive and prohibits all municipalities from enacting local smokefree laws that differ from the state law. Philadelphia is exempt from the provisions of the state law and may continue to enforce its stronger city law. See below for history.
For more information about the law, visit the Pennsylvania
Department of Health.
To report a violation, call the Pennsylvania Clean Indoor Air Helpline at 877-835-9535.
Current tobacco-related statistics are available from the Centers for Disease Control's Tobacco Control State Highlights, 2010.
Pennsylvania's 2018 Legislative Session: January 2 - TBD
In 1988, Pennsylvania enacted a Clean Indoor Air Act, which included a clause preempting most municipalities from enacting their own smokefree air laws. However, in 1999 the preemption clause was repealed by the Legislature. Then in 2000, the Legislature enacted a measure purporting to repeal the 1999 repealer. For complicated reasons, it was never clear whether the 1999 repealer was valid. Thus, the state was left with a legal conundrum: did the Clean Indoor Air Act of 1988 still prevent municipalities from enacting their own smokefree laws?
The uncertainty remained for several years, as two trial courts came to opposing conclusions about whether state law preempts local legislation. Then, in an appeal of a trial court ruling supporting local control, an appellate court ruled that state law does in fact preempt local legislation. Thus, it currently stands that Pennsylvania municipalities--except for Philadelphia--do not have the right to enact local laws.
In November 2006, Allegheny County enacted a strong smokefree law, which was challenged in court by two bar owners on the ground that state law preempted the County from acting. This argument was rejected in Mitchell's Bar & Rest. Inc. v. Allegheny County, No. GD 06-29159 (PA Court of Common Pleas, Allegheny County, Dec. 22, 2006). The court ruled that, given the uncertainty of the status of the original preemption clause, it must presume that the County law is valid. The court did, however, enjoin enforcement of the law with respect to bars until April 30, 2007 to give the Legislature an opportunity to assert its right to preempt the field of smoking regulation.
In January 2007, Erie County enacted a strong smokefree law, which was also challenged in court on the ground of preemption. In Bowen et. al. v. Erie County, Pennsylvania et. al., No. 10504-2007 (PA Court of Common Pleas, Allegheny County, Mar. 2, 2007), the court also ruled that the 1999 repealer never went into effect. Thus, the court determined that municipalities have no right to enact their own laws on the subject of smokefree air and permanently enjoined enforcement of the County law. This ruling is now being appealed.
In May 2007, on appeal of the Allegheny County ruling, the state Commonwealth Court reversed the trial court's refusal to permanently enjoin the law and found that Pennsylvania communities do not have the right to adopt smokefree laws because the purported repeal of the preemption clause in the 1988 Clean Indoor Air Act was, in fact, never effective. (Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, No. 192 C.D. 2007, May 22, 2007.)
In June 2008, the legislature enacted SB246, which makes all non-hospitality workplaces smokefree, but allows for exemptions for bars, bar areas of restaurants, and casinos. Very significantly, the law ruled that Pennsylvania municipalities do not have the right to local control and are prohibited from enacting or enforcing smokefree laws that are stronger than state law. Philadelphia is exempt from the provisions of the state law and may continue to enforce its stronger municipal law.
Strong smokefree workplace ordinances that were previously enacted by municipalities
other than Philadelphia, including Scranton, Allegheny County,
Erie County, and New Hope, cannot be enforced due to court rulings
and ultimately the preemption clause in the state law.
- 2/1/2019HB217—(vehicles with minors)—An Act prohibiting persons from smoking in motor vehicles occupied by child under 18 years
- 3/8/2019SB288—(vehicles with minors)—An act relating to operation of vehicles
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- 10/13/2017State lawmakers choose winners and losers through preemption
- 7/6/2017Blue Cities Want to Make Their Own Rules. Red States Won't Let Them.
- 6/18/2017Pa.'s rule on casino smoking 'simply doesn't work'
- 5/10/2017The Threat of Super-Preemption
- 5/9/2017Pa. Lawmakers Consider Smoking Ban in All Bars, Casinos
- 3/6/2017Preemption Prevents Innovation
- 2/21/2017City Rights in an Era of Preemption: A State-by-State Analysis
- 2/2/2017Red State, Blue City
- 1/5/2017GOP aims to rein in liberal cities
- 9/9/2016How ALEC, ACCE, and Preemption Laws are Gutting the Powers of American Cities
- 8/22/2016Blue Cities, Red States
- 6/28/2016Colorado Preemptions of Local Government: The Need for the Colorado Community Rights Amendment
- 6/23/2016State and Local Comprehensive Smoke-Free Laws for Worksites, Restaurants, and Bars--United States, 2015
- 4/6/2016From Fracking Bans To Paid Sick Leave: How States Are Overruling Local Laws
- 4/1/2016Growing Southern cities are increasingly targets of state pre-emption
- 3/25/2016Beyond North Carolina's LGBT Battle: States' War on Cities
- 2/24/2016Should all workplaces be smoke-free in Pennsylvania?
- 2/4/2016Corporate Interests Take Aim at Local Democracy
- 8/6/2015Blowing the Whistle on ALEC's Little Brother ACCE
- 7/7/2015Four Ways ALEC Tried to Ruin Your State this Year
- 6/16/2015Pennsylvania Lawmakers Consider End To Smoking Ban Exemptions
- 6/12/2015Expansion of Pennsylvania's indoor smoking ban to be revisited
- 5/17/2015Say no: States increasingly blocking cities and counties from imposing mandates on businesses
- 5/8/2015State lawmakers hate federal meddling even as they preempt local government
- 3/30/2015The ALEC-Backed War on Local Democracy
- 2/23/2015Govern Yourselves, State Lawmakers Tell Cities, but Not Too Much
- 1/28/2015Smoking laws should be a priority, here and statewide
- 1/29/2014Smoking Ban Expansion Bill
- 11/18/2013Lawmakers must pass bill strengthening Pa.'s smoking ban: As I See It
- 10/4/2013Inquirer Editorial: A risk casinos can do without
- 6/10/2013Strike a blow for respiratory freedom and expand Pennsylvania's smoke-free law
- 6/5/2013Pa. lawmaker calls for stricter smoking ban
- 5/16/2013Push on to expand smoking ban
- 4/21/2013Pennsylvania's smoking ban is seen as a success nearly 5 years after it became law
- 7/25/2012Bill would broaden Pennsylvania smoking ban
- 3/6/2012Toughen up smoking ban
- 2/25/2012Excuses up in smoke? State senator looks to eliminate loopholes that allow smoking to continue in some public places
- 1/2/2012'Patchwork' of Pa. indoor smoking exemptions targeted
- 9/11/2010Let's clear the air
- 2/5/2010State Preemption of Local Smoke-Free Laws in Government Work Sites, Private Work Sites, and Restaurants United States, 2005-2009
- 1/8/2010Gov. Rendell signs gaming bill
- 3/2/2009Pa. Supreme Court hears police tobacco ban lawsuit
- 9/11/2008Pa. smoking ban goes into effect, with exemptions
- 9/9/2008Lawmakers want to let county have stricter smoking rules
- 8/23/2008Bars, eateries prep for smoking ban
- 6/29/2008Bill would let Scranton renew smoking law
- 6/13/2008Rendell signs smoking-ban law
- 6/12/2008Municipalities can still pursue outdoor bans
- 6/11/2008Pa. smoking ban approved
- 6/10/2008State lawmakers seek to revive smoking ban
- 5/28/2008Democratic Leader to Present Smoking Ban Compromise
- 5/20/2008'Local Option' Differences Holding Up Smoking Ban
- 5/12/2008Rendell's veto threat sets back compromise on smoking ban
- 5/7/2008Smoking ban action again delayed in Harrisburg
- 5/1/2008Panel to Vote on Smoking Ban
- 4/29/2008Push for compromise
- 4/19/2008Pa. smoking ban debate moves along at slow burn
- 4/11/2008 Proposed air tests just a smoke screen
- 4/1/2008Anti-smoking bill delayed at least another month
- 4/1/2008Lawmakers nearing deal on smoking limits
- 3/21/2008Consensus elusive on smoke-free workplace ban.
- 3/19/2008Consensus elusive on smoke-free workplace ban
- 3/10/2008Statewide smoking ban nears
- 3/3/2008Editorial: Pa. Smoking Ban
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