New York, New Jersey, Maryland and others have all passed state-wide smoking bans, but Pennsylvania has yet to do so. ?While sections of Pennsylvania like Philadelphia, Scranton and Alleghany County have adopted a smoking ban, there is still much conflict over a state-wide ban.
Pennsylvania State Representatives Michael Gerber and Bob Belfanti share different views of what the state smoking ban should entail.
Gerber wants to see smoking in all public areas banned because of the numerous health risks involved, while Belfanti is open to negotiation on a smoking ban that excludes VFW halls. Right now the biggest challenge for these Pennsylvania legislators is compromising personal feelings verses public health risks.
The main problem with beginning a smoking ban is determining which establishments should be exempt from the prohibition. In Philadelphia, “the legislation includes exemptions for outdoor cafes and so-called “neighborhood” taverns — smaller bars that make their money primarily from liquor sales,” a report from NBC10 said when the law passed last June.
If a state-wide ban goes into effect, it’s possible that the city laws on this issue will also be changed to comply. Several smoking bans have been proposed in the past, but none have been passed yet.
Two years before the smoking ban in Philadelphia was put into effect, people were hesitant that it could harm businesses. However, “one year after New York City enacted its smoking ban, business activity actually increased in restaurants and bars, and 10,000 jobs were added. We understand the angst of some establishment owners, but we truly believe that this will be a positive for businesses in Philadelphia, both in terms of bottom line performance and the related health benefits to patrons and employees,” the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce’s President and CEO Mark Schweiker said to the Philadelphia Business Journal.
The legislators, Belfanti, Gerber and four others, are struggling to create a ban that will compromise two separate beliefs. ?
Those two beliefs, eliminating all smoking and allowing smoking in certain places such as private clubs and bars, aren’t just disagreements shared among legislators; they are shared among the people in Pennsylvania.
Donna Given, 46, is a lifetime resident of Philadelphia and has been smoking since age 15. “The ban doesn’t bother me at all,” Given said. Although when she was able to smoke in restaurants she would.
It doesn’t affect her decision of where to dine. She does believe that bars could be excluded from the ban, but is willing to go outside to smoke when she wants. She also feels that if Philadelphia has a ban then the whole state should have one as well, considering all of New Jersey does.
“I feel self-conscious smoking inside,” Linda Milne, sophomore psychology major, said. She is from New Jersey and began smoking after the ban there had passed. When she walks into a restaurant and they ask “Smoking or non-smoking,” she thinks it’s “awesome” but is uncomfortable doing so. She doesn’t, however, feel bad when she smokes in front of Founder’s Hall and people have to walk through the smoke.
Although Cabrini has a smoking policy that states, “Smoking is not permitted within 30 feet of any entrance to any Cabrini facility, air intake, athletic fields, or where posted,” it’s hardly enforced. When referring to smoking in front of Founder’s Hall, Milne said, “No one of any authority has ever said anything to me.”