Pennsylvania Smoking Ban FAQs
On June 13, 2008, Governor Ed Rendell signed the Clean Indoor Air Act. This Act prohibits smoking in most public areas and workplaces, protecting the majority of citizens in Pennsylvania from tobacco smoke. On September 10, 2008, the new law will take full effect everywhere in the state except for in the City of Philadelphia, which will be permitted to preserve its existing local smoking ban - the Clean Indoor Air Worker Protection Law.
On August 1, PRA staff met with representatives from the PA Department of Health to discuss the interpretation of the Pennsylvania Clean Indoor Air Act (CIAA). Listed below are answers to some frequently asked questions about the smoking ban, which will take effect on September 11, 2008.
Q. Is outdoor smoking permitted?
A. The outdoor property of a business building is not covered by the Pennsylvania Clean Indoor Air Act (CIAA). The Department of Health recommends that smokers be provided with a designated area away from building entrances, windows or openings, and in an area that has appropriate containers for ash and cigarette disposal. Restaurants may offer smoking on any and all patios, decks, and outdoor seating.
Q. What is the permitted distance from doorways to smoke?
A. The CIAA does not provide a required minimum distance. If possible, a distance of 20 feet is recommended.
Q. Are taverns with less than 20% food sales allowed to stay smoking establishments?
A. Yes, smoking is unrestricted in establishments that report less than 20% food sales. However, no one under 18 may enter the premises, even momentarily, and appropriate signage must be posted.
Q. Is smoking permitted in a designated employee smoking break room that is completely apart from food prep/service/customer areas?
A. The CIAA does not permit an indoor smoking room of any kind. Business owners may provide a designated outdoor area for employee smoking. A business owners’ toolkit, created the Pennsylvania Alliance to Control Tobacco (PACT) is available, which will provide guidance to employers on helping their employees comply with the law. Information on Pennsylvania's resources for quitting smoking is available on the Department of Health's website at www.health.state.pa.us, or may be ordered through the Pennsylvania Clean Indoor Air Helpline at 1-877-835-9535.
Q. Can an organization build a separate smoking area which has no food service, its own ventilation system and entrance before the bill is enacted?
A. The CIAA does not permit the construction of a separate area with its own ventilation system and entrance for the sole purpose of smoking.
Q. A frequent comment in the industry is that some establishments will under - report food sales in order to earn a smoking exception. What measures will be taken to monitor this?
A. The CIAA requires business owners seeking an exception to submit information to the Department of Health in support of the exception, which includes tax information as reported to the Department of Revenue. The detail of sale information required by the Clean Indoor Air Act must be submitted to the Department of Revenue as part of the periodic tax reporting requirements, and business owners must affirm that their information is true and correct to the best of their knowledge, information and belief, subject to the penalties for unsworn falsification to authorities.
Q. What are the requirements for an existing restaurant with a bar to obtain an exception to allow smoking in the bar area of their property?
A. The CIAA lists the following requirements for this type of an exception:
• The bar must have a valid liquor license.
• The bar area ("drinking establishment" as defined in the Clean Indoor Air Act) must be a physically connected or adjacent enclosed area which is separate from the eating area.
• The bar area must have a separate air system and a separate outside entrance.
• No person under the age of 18 may be permitted in this area at any time or for any reason. This includes children of business owners, underage staff, or children accompanied by adults entering the area to pick up take-out food.
• Signage stating smoking is permitted must be posted at all entrances to the bar area.
• Sales of food consumed in the bar area where smoking is permitted must be less than or equal to twenty percent (20%) of the combined annual gross sales within the permitted smoking area. Annual sales must be from the previous year or must be projected revenues for the next year which will be verified within six months by the Department of Health.
• The application for this exception, including the required documentation, must be received by the Department of Health by September 10, 2008.
• If the Department of Health has not completed the review and approval process prior to September 11, 2008, the applicant may permit smoking in the bar area until the application process has been completed.
ACCESS THE EXCEPTION FORM HERE: CLEAN INDOOR AIR ACT, APPLICATION FOR EXCEPTION FOR CIGAR BAR, DRINKING ESTABLISHMENT, OR TOBACCO SHOP
Q. What are the penalties of the Clean Indoor Air Act and who will be responsible for ensuring compliance on the premises, the building owner or the occupant? Which party would bear the violation?
A. The CIAA provides for the following penalties
• The owner, operator or manager of the premises may be penalized for failing to post proper signage in amounts ranging from $250 to $1,000.
• The owner, operator or manager of the premises may be penalized for allowing smoking where it is prohibited in amounts ranging from $250 to $1,000.
• A person (patron or employ of the premises) may be penalized for smoking where it is prohibited in amounts ranging from $250 to $1,000.
The owner, operator, manager of the premises, or a lessee if in actual control of the premises is responsible for ensuring compliance and may be penalized.
Q. Will appropriate compliance signage be provided by the Department of Health?
A. The Pennsylvania Department of Health and the Pennsylvania Alliance to Control Tobacco (PACT) will provide compliance toolkits to businesses. Toolkits will include signage, summary of the CIAA , examples of how to help employees and patrons comply, and cessation support program information. These resources are available at www.health.state.pa.us or www.PACTonline.org, or through the Pennsylvania Clean Indoor Air Helpline at 1-877-835-9535.