Pa smoking ban
will affect casinos, bars, to some extend
Pennsylvania smoking ban is now an inch away from a fact - the
State Senate yesterday overwhelming approved a bill to ban
smoking in virtually all public places and most work sites
throughout the state. The bill has been sent to Gov. Rendell,
who is expected to sign the bill and make it a law, becoming
effective 90 days after the signature. The new Pa smoking law
will ban smoking in all public places including hospitals,
schools and sports facilities, taxis, trains, buses and their
stations. The Pa smoking ban will also affect all restaurants.
Exemptions are present in the bill, however, including bars
which derive less than 20% of annual revenue in food sales,
private clubs and luckily - tobacco shops and cigar bars.
Pennsylvania has long been the cigar capital of the United
States and many of the most famous cigar shops are located in
that state. Private homes and other residences and vehicles
(unless used for child-care services), long-term care
facilities, as well as residential facilities used for drug and
alcohol rehabilitation and mental-health services are all exempt
from the smoking ban. Hotels would be permitted to allow smoking
in up to 25% of their rooms and sports fans would be allowed to
smoke in designated areas at the venues.
The Pa smoking ban also has an exemption
for the casinos in the state, located outside of Philadelphia.
The two casinos located in Philly are already banned from
allowing any smoking in the gambling facilities, under a
previous Philadelphia law, and the new smoking bill will not
change this. But the casinos outside of the Quaker City have
caught a break - casinos would be permitted to allow smoking in
up to 50% of their gaming halls, much to the disapproval of the
gambling competitors in neighboring New Jersey, who have lost a
big chunk of their business to Pennsylvania, thanks to a full
casino smoking ban in Atlantic City. But there is a catch to the
50% at the casinos - the gambling businesses must prove to the
state Department of Revenue that the smoking ban is harming its
business. If they fail to do so, only 25% of the gaming floor
would be open for smoking.