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10 Years After Passage Of Clean Indoor Air Act, Lawmakers Want To Close Exemptions

Gerald Herbert

State Rep. Dan Frankel and state Sen. Jay Costa, both Democrats from Allegheny County, are calling on their fellow lawmakers to pass bills that would close exemptions to the state's Clean Indoor Air Act. The law was passed 10 years ago and bans people from smoking tobacco in most esetablishments.

However, the law does not apply to some bars and casinos, and Frankel said it's time that changed.

"We've given the law a decade to work, and we know it does," Frankel said. "Now it deserves to work for absolutely everybody in Pennsylvania."

A primary concern for opponents to the exemptions is exposure to second hand smoke for both workers and patrons. There are more than 7,000 chemicals in secondhand tobacco smoke and 250 are known to be harmful, according to the National Cancer Institute. 

Frankel said the exemptions were made because there was a lot of pushback against the law at the time of its passing.

"We had to compromise," Frankel said. "But I think as time has gone by, we understand those exemptions are putting people at risk."

More than 2,300 establishments in Pennsylvania still allow indoor smoking, according to the Pennsylvania Alliance to Control Tobacco.

Two bills, one in the state House and the other in the state Senate, would close the loopholes. Both are awaiting action by lawmakers. 

"What we need to do is expand the definition of public places that would not be permitted to smoke," Costa said. "We know and recognize that we have a lot more work to do going forward."