PA Smoking Ban Guide – Update

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With less than two weeks until the smoking ban, or Clean Indoor Air Act, goes into effect, many bar/restaurant owners are still confused about what the ban truly means.

Here’s a quick tutorial, but for more information, check out the Pennsylvania Smoking Ban FAQ at the Pennsylvania Restaurant Association website.

If you’re a bar/restaurant owner, you must apply for an exception if you want to allow smoking. The legislation says that a drinking establishment, cigar bar or tobacco shop must submit a letter, accompanied by verifiable supporting documentation, to apply for an exception. The exception will be based on the establishment’s books, accounts, revenues or receipts, including those reported to the Dept. of Revenue, from the previous year or stated project annual revenues. Verification will take place within six months.

Here is a guide from the Dept. of Health, and here is the application.

For a private club to qualify for the exception, it must take a record a vote of its officers to address smoking in the club’s facilities.

And, this I did not know until Josh mentioned in the comments, but the definition of a “drinking establishment” as described in the bill does clearly say that it does not include “a nightclub.”

However, I’m not sure what that really means for our local “clubs.” Most probably operate under a restaurant license, but this does make it very gray. (I’ve submitted an inquiry to the Dept. of Health, and I will update when I know more.)

There’s more after the jump.

Bars will be required to post visible signage designating whether smoking is permitted or not.

Violation complaints can be filed in writing, over the phone or via the Health Dept.’s website (will post link when it’s live). Non-compliance penalties will begin with a warning, and fines will range from $250 to $1,000.

Therefore, if you’re a smoker, you can:

  1. Smoke outside, pretty much anywhere
  2. Smoke at a cigar bar, private club or bar/tavern that has 20 percent food sales or less and has applied for an exception
  3. Spend less on drycleaning when your clothes less often reek of “eau de smoky bar”
  4. Be inspired to finally quit smoking

If you’re a nonsmoker, you can:

  1. Rest assured your “going out” options will expand as many bar/restaurants will go nonsmoking in compliance with the new law
  2. Not smell like an ashtray when you go out
  3. Expect to walk through crowds of smokers when you walk outside of a bar
Sara Bozich
Author: Sara Bozich

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