We'll protect you ... some of you, anyway
The Pennsylvania Legislature, in typical fashion, has crafted a horrible piece of legislation to ban smoking in public places. House and Senate negotiators have come up with the compromise that may be voted on as early as today. According to the Associated Press, it would ban smoking in most workplaces, including restaurants, but it exempts bars that make less than 20 percent of their money from food sales, parts of casinos, private clubs such as an Elks lodge or a VFW hall, volunteer fire departments (?????) and even nursing homes (double ?????). The legislation allows Philadelphia to keep its stricter anti-smoking law but bars any other local government from going beyond the proposed state restrictions. What the state lawmakers are saying, essentially, is that they'll protect patrons and employees of restaurants and some other public facilities from the proven dangers of secondhand smoke, but as for the rest of you, enjoy that cancer. I've been a smoker for more than 30 years, but I don't smoke in places where other people are eating. I also smoke outside at my own house because I don't believe my wife and pets should be subjected to the ill effects of my filthy habit. I do smoke in bars, but if state lawmakers imposed a ban on indoor smoking at all public facilities, I would be glad to comply. I don't think it's asking smokers too much for them to go outside to light up. But in this instance, the legislation is a joke. Public health is not the main consideration here. The lobbyists for the bars and clubs and casinos have won. As we know, money talks in Harrisburg.