Frankel unveils bill to protect PA workers from secondhand smoke
Would eliminate loopholes from Clean Indoor Air Act to protect casino, bar, club workers
HARRISBURG, Sept. 20 – Joining workers and health advocates at a state Capitol news conference today, PA House Health Committee Majority Chairman Dan Frankel unveiled newly reintroduced legislation that would protect Pennsylvania’s casino, bar and private club workers from exposure to secondhand smoke.
House Bill 1657 would ban smoking – including the use of e-cigarettes – in the state’s bars, clubs and casinos that were allowed to permit smoking due to loopholes included in the Pennsylvania’s Clean Indoor Air Act when it was passed in 2008.
“Fifteen years ago, this commonwealth took an enormous step forward in ensuring that our workers are not forced to breathe in toxic smoke – it’s time to finish the job,” Frankel, D-Allegheny, said.
“Pennsylvania’s workers should not have to sacrifice their health for a paycheck, but the data shows that’s exactly what’s happening,” Frankel said, noting that a study released by the National Institutes of Health soon after the Clean Indoor Air Act took effect found that the projected rate of deaths caused by secondhand smoke among nonsmoking casinos workers was 5 times the death rate from mining disasters.
Studies also show that smokefree policies are good for business.
“We have all seen the evidence firsthand: smokefree casinos are not just a breath of fresh air for us workers, but they are proving to be winners for the industry,” said Jennifer Rubolino, co-founder of CEASE PA. “Parx Casino and Greenwood Gaming & Entertainment are leading the charge with smokefree venues and industry-leading profits. This isn’t just a local trend – casinos across the nation, from the Las Vegas strip to tribal gaming venues, are embracing smokefree policies.
“We launched CEASE to end outdated indoor smoking policies and help tell the stories of pregnant colleagues exposed to cigar smoke and friends developing lifelong illnesses due to years working in smoky casinos. The only way to truly protect us is to close the casino smoking loophole. We thank Representative Frankel for his support on this, and we urge lawmakers to pass this bill as soon as possible.”
The Protecting Workers from Secondhand Smoke Act would:
- Eliminate loopholes in the Clean Indoor Air Act that leave workers exposed to cancerous secondhand smoke.
- Expand the definition of smoking to add e-cigarettes, to combat the rise in vaping-related illnesses.
- Give all localities the ability to enact smoke-free ordinances that are more protective than state law.
The bill is currently being reviewed by the PA House Health Committee, and a companion bill has been introduced by state Sen. Jay Costa, D-Allegheny.
Video of Rep. Frankel speaking at the event is available here: https://www.dropbox.com/scl/fi/nu1ajy9jhqi1d3nmyjffp/092023-FRANKEL-SMOKING-SOT.mp4?rlkey=wz6p0739uwmqj3ke7r2yg23b9&dl=0, and photos, here: https://pahouse.com/Frankel/PhotoGallery?g=5745