Progress on the PA Smoking Ban
Today, the House-Senate conference committee finally approved a compromise version of a public smoking ban for Pennsylvania. In order to become law, it must be approved by the full House and Senate -- which could happen as early as next week -- and by governor Ed Rendell, who has stated that he’ll support this version of the ban.
This is a good step forward and if it becomes law, it’ll be a huge improvement over the current situation. However, the ban does contain a bunch of exemptions, allowing smoking in certain places, such as bars that make less than 20% of their revenue from food, and up to 25% of rooms in hotels.
This ban allows Philadelphia’s current ban to stand, but does not allow any other local bans to come into effect. This has some people upset:
"You’re saying to the people of Allegheny County and city of Scranton, go to hell," said [Senate Minority Leader Robert Mellow], who cast the lone dissenting vote.
I agree with Mellow. However, it’s clear that this legislature has neither the brains nor the guts to enact a real ban, so for now we’ll have to take what we can get. But this isn’t over, and I suspect that reason and health will prevail in the long run.
About half of the states in the US, as well as many countries around the world, have smoking bans now. But in some cases, I think it’s going to take a generational turnover to purge those politicians who are in the pockets of the scumbags running the tobacco companies.