Senate Bill No. 246, also known as the Pennsylvania Clean Indoor Air Act, was enacted this past week on September 11.The Act prohibits smoking in any public place in Pennsylvania, including but not limited to restaurants, bars, retail stores and bingo halls. Furthermore, The fines start at up to $100.00 for the first violation, $200.00 for the second, and up to $500.00 for any subsequent violations. Gov. Rendell signed the Bill on June 13 of this year.
Smoking is defined as “the carrying by a person of a lighted cigar, cigarette, pipe or other lighted smoking device.”
The Act also lists statistics in support of this public ban. According to the test of Bill No. 246, 53,000 non-smokers in the United States die annually from lung and heart disease due to exposure from passive smoke. Furthermore, 300,000 children annually have increased frequency of pneumonia and bronchitis due to exposure to tobacco smoke, and the same smoke is responsible for up to one-million asthma attacks.
An email, sent out by the West Chester University human resources department on the same day as the act took effect informed the student body that the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education has taken this one step further.
“Smoking, as defined by the statute, is now prohibited on the entire campus . It is a violation of this law for employees and students to smoke on campus.”
All 14 colleges of the PASSHE must follow the ban, along with most other schools in the state.
“When I heard about this law, I almost cried.” Said a third-year student who wishes to remain anonymous, She continued to say that she feels that it is going to be impossible to regulate, comparing it to online downloading. “Too many people do it, they can’t arrest everyone. It isn’t illegal to smoke cigarettes. It doesn’t make you a bad person if you do.”
However, Jessica Livezey, a second-year English Major disagrees.
“I think it’s amazing,” Livezey said. “I’m so excited. I’ve been waiting for this forever. It’s so nice to walk out of a building and not gag.”
The opinions on this issue vary greatly, and mostly depend on whether or not the speaker is a smoker or not. Livezey made this point by noting, “granted, I’m a non-smoker.”
According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, after signing this act, Pennsylvania joined the 32 states to already have some type of smoking ban. It was approved on a 41-9 vote, and the entire Philadelphia delegation supported it. France, Germany and most other European countries have been smoke-free for eight years, and Canada has been for four.
State Sen. Stewart Greenleaf (R -Bucks), chairmen of the joint committee that introduced the bill, said that the final bill isn’t perfect, but it will “protect 95 percent of the public from secondhand smoke.”
Jenn Rothstein is a second-year English major. She can be reached at JR649299@wcupa.edu.