10 years of a Smoke Free PA
10 Years of a Smoke-Free PA
This June marks 10 years since Pennsylvania went smoke free with the enactment of the Clean Indoor Air Act on June 13th, 2008. Long gone are the days of being asked “smoking or non-smoking section?” when going out to eat, ashtrays lining bar tops and tables, and heading home from an evening out smelling like the aforementioned ashtray. The Clean Indoor Air Act has had immense public health impact:
- Indoor air pollution levels in newly smoke-free hospitality venues, such as restaurants, declined by nearly 90% following the law’s passage.1
- Reduction of exposure to secondhand smoke for hospitality workers and patrons.
- Reduction of overall smoking rates by;
- Prompting more smokers to try to quit,
- Increasing the number of successful quit attempts,
- Reducing the number of cigarettes that continuing smokers consume and,
- Discouraging kids from ever starting to smoke.2
So when’s the parade, there is so much to celebrate, right? While the progress has been far reaching, the finish line has not been reached.
In 2018 The American Lung Association’s “State of Tobacco Control”, a report card that evaluates state tobacco control policies, gave Pennsylvania a grade of “C” for Smoke Free Air Laws. When determining a score nine categories are reviewed: government workplaces, private workplaces, schools, childcare facilities, restaurants, retail store, recreational/cultural facilities, penalties and enforcement. With that grade came suggested action to be taken by elected officials, “Remove the exemptions from the current Clean Indoor Air Act that restricts smoking in public places and workplaces”.3 Currently in Pennsylvania, over 2,300 venues are exempt from the Clean Indoor Air Act through exemptions, which include:
- Bars with 20% or less revenue from food
- Casinos (up to 50% of the gaming floor)
- Up to 25% of rooms in Hotels/Motels
- Private clubs and private residences
- Tobacco Shops and Cigar Bars
- Truck stops with shower facilities
- Outdoor sports, recreational facility, theater or performance establishment
These exemptions leave hospitality workers and the patrons of these establishments exposed to the harmful chemicals including carcinogens in secondhand tobacco smoke. It is estimated that smoke-free air across all venues would save 52 hospitality workers lives annually.4
What will it take to cross that finish line and ensure clean indoor air to all Pennsylvanians? Pennsylvania Alliance to Control Tobacco (PACT) agrees that the exemptions of the Clean Indoor Air Act need to be removed, extending full protection from the effects of secondhand smoke to all workers. They also suggest that the preemption from Clean Indoor Air Act be removed; allowing localities to adopt and enforce indoor air regulations that set higher standards than the existing state law.5
For more information and how you can take action visit: Pennsylvania Alliance to Control Tobacco
4. Pennsylvania Department of Health. Chapter 7 of Act 77. Tobacco Use Prevention and Cessation. State Fiscal Year July 1,2008-June 30, 2009 Annual Report.