All Pennsylvanians will benefit from the persistence of advocates and legislators who refused to quit working until we had joined dozens of other states in banning smoking in most public places," Governor Rendell said as he signed the law today in Ambler before an enthusiastic audience including advocates who have worked for years to enact the legislation.
"Smoking and secondhand smoke kills and costs our health care system billions of dollars in Pennsylvania. It only makes sense for us to attack this problem and the public overwhelmingly supports these protections. The members of the conference committee that developed this measure are to be congratulated on achieving a long sought compromise that will benefit the people of the Commonwealth."
The smoking ban is an initiative from the Governor’s Prescription for Pennsylvania, a comprehensive health care reform plan which strives to make health care more affordable and accessible while improving quality.
A 2006 report from the U.S. Surgeon General documented the serious and deadly health effects of secondhand smoke on healthy non-smokers, which include developmental effects in children, heart disease in adults and cancer in sites beyond the lungs.
The legislation, Senate Bill 246, prohibits smoking in a public place or a workplace and lists examples of what is considered a public place. The bill allows for some exceptions, including a private residence (except those licensed as a child-care facility), a private social function where the site involved is under the control of the sponsor (except where the site is owned, leased, or operated by a state or local government agency) and a wholesale or retail tobacco shop. It also imposes penalties for those establishments not in compliance, as well as those individuals smoking in prohibited areas.
Establishments will have a 90-day phase-in period to allow for necessary changes to come in to compliance with the new law. During this time, the Pennsylvania Department of Health will implement its plans for information, education and awareness to the general public and businesses about the requirements of the new legislation, and provide technical assistance to businesses in the implementation of no smoking policies.
In a signing letter to members of the General Assembly, the Governor noted that he shared the concerns of many citizens and some legislators that an even more comprehensive clean indoor air act can become law.
He said he was particularly sympathetic to those citizens in Allegheny County, Scranton and other municipalities and believes it would be right and fair for state law to allow for the preservation of their forward-thinking local ordinances in addition to the ordinance adopted by the City of Philadelphia.