Pennsylvania Cigar Shops, Bars Could Go Smoke-Free

Pennsylvania Cigar Shops, Bars Could Go Smoke-Free

Pennsylvania lawmakers introduced a bill this month that could ban smoking inside a number of private businesses, including the state's cigar shops, bars and casinos.

House Bill 1309 would eliminate the indoor smoking exemptions outlined in the state's Clean Indoor Air Act, a 2008 law that regulates smoking in public places and workplaces. Pennsylvania remains one of the most smoke-friendly states in the Northeast, but if the exemptions are eliminated, the state's smoking laws would become some of the strictest in the country.

Similar bills aimed at ending exemptions in the Clean Indoor Air Act were introduced during the 2013-2014 and 2015-2016 legislative sessions; both failed to become law.

The bill is headed by Republican Matthew Baker, the majority chairman of the House Health Committee, with bipartisan support from 17 additional representatives.

The proposed legislation amends a portion of Section 3 of the Clean Indoor Air Act. Should H.B. 1309 become law, it would remove the current exemptions for:

  • Tobacco shops and cigar bars
  • General "drinking establishments" (Pennsylvania bars can obtain a smoking exemption if sale of food amounts to less than 20 percent of the combined gross sales.)
  • Casinos and hotels
  • Private clubs and fundraising venues
  • Manufacturers, importers, storage facilities, and wholesalers of tobacco products and tobacco-related products.

The bill is currently under review with the Committee on Health and needs approval before going to a vote.

"At this moment in time, there's nothing indicating that the bill will get a hearing," said Matt Dogali, senior director of state legislative affairs for the IPCPR. Dogali believes the legislation will likely meet the same fate as the 2013-2014 and 2015-2016 bills.

"We have a large amount of support in Pennsylvania. Even if [the bill] moves forward, there would be bipartisan support in both chambers working to protect tobacconists."