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Pa. Lawmakers Consider Smoking Ban in All Bars, Casinos

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – If some state legislators have their way, smoking will pretty much be confined to the smokers' own home.

"This bill improves on the original Clean Indoor Air Act and basically takes out all the exemptions," PA Rep. Dan Frankel, a Squirrel Hill Democrat, told KDKA political editor Jon Delano on Tuesday.

Under the current Clean Indoor Air Act, smoking is allowed in some sections of casinos, along with private clubs, bars with minimal food sales, some public outdoor patios, and even cigar bars.

But House Bill 1309, introduced by House Health Committee chair Matt Baker, a Tioga Republican, would end most of that, says Frankel, a co-sponsor.

Delano: "Basically, all indoor spaces will be smoke free?"

Frankel: "That's correct, and we think that's an important position to be in. Other states have moved in that direction."

Not everyone agrees.

"These types of bans on local businesses disrupt our free market system," said PA Rep. Eli Evankovich, a Murrysville Republican and a member of the House Health Committee.

Evankovich says the smoking ban is too broad.

"We're trampling on peoples' rights whenever we do that."

One other change: the bill allows counties and municipalities to enact even stronger anti-smoking bans.

With fewer that 17 percent of Americans smoking these days and the tobacco lobby much less powerful than it used to be, legislation like this has a much better chance of passing in 2017 than ever before.

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