Pennsylvania enacts Clean Indoor Air Act Prohibiting Smoking in most Public Places including Workplaces

Governor Edward G. Rendell signed into law the Clean Indoor Air Act, announcing that the Act “will protect Pennsylvanians from the deadly health effects of secondhand smoke by prohibiting smoking in most public places, including restaurants, workplaces and a portion of casino floors.” The new law is effective September 12, 2008.

The Act covers the indoor areas of all “workplaces” which includes all places of employment and those where volunteer activity is conducted. It seems the all too familiar outdoor smoking areas at workplaces survived the Act’s prohibitions, unless the owner of the public place prohibits smoking on the entire property (indoor and outdoor), which is expressly allowed under the legislation. Signage is required designating both smoking and nonsmoking areas.

The Act contains exemptions to smoking prohibitions for rooms within lodging establishments, tobacco sellers and manufacturers, long-term care facilities, private clubs, and drinking establishments. The Act does not expressly address issues created when an exempt area is also a workplace, although a common sense reading would allow smoking in exempt areas even if work were performed there. Perhaps the Department of Health will clarify this technical inconsistency. The Act has anti-retaliation provisions that state “a person may not discharge an employee, refuse to hire and applicant for employment or retaliate against an employee because that individual exercises a right to a smoke-free environment required under this act.” 

Penalties for violations of the act range from $250 for the first offense escalating to $1000 for subsequent offenses. An affirmative defense is provided for good faith efforts to prohibit smoking. Employers must comply with the Act by posting a sign containing the international no smoking symbol and enforcing no smoking policies including relegating smoking activities to designated outdoor areas.

UPDATES: Pennsylvania Workplaces Must be Smoke-free by September 11, 2008 (includes action steps for compliance with the law;  Department of Health Issues Guidance for Employer Compliance with the Pennsylvania Clean Indoor Air Act

Trackbacks (3) Links to blogs that reference this article Trackback URL
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Pennsylvania Labor and Employment Blog - August 11, 2008 10:48 AM
The Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) has issued Guidance in preparation for the September 11, 2008 effective date of Pennsylvania’s Clean Indoor Air Act (CIAA). The Guidance has the following noteworthy provisions and references collateral...
Pennsylvania Labor and Employment Blog - August 14, 2008 11:08 AM
The Department of Health (DOH) released additional Guidance and an application for an exemption for drinking establishments, cigar bars, and tobacco shops under Pennsylvania’s Clean Indoor Air Act (CIAA). The DOH information tangentially addresse...
Pennsylvania Labor and Employment Blog - September 3, 2008 9:10 AM
The effective date of Pennsylvania’s Clean Indoor Air Act is fast approaching leaving many employers with questions about what they should be doing to comply with the new law. Here are some steps that employers may wish to consider in...
Comments (14) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Donna - June 26, 2008 10:28 AM

I work in an office with 5 people does this smoking law cover my office, the building is owned by the owner of the company.

Michael Moore - June 26, 2008 10:45 AM

Pennsylvania's Clean Indoor Air Act applies to all "workplaces" without regard to size or the number of employees working at the worplace location.

Rhea - July 1, 2008 2:44 PM

Can an employer establish a "smoking lunch room" or a "smoking area" outside?

Michael Moore - July 3, 2008 2:55 PM

An outdoor smoking area seems to be permitted. An indoor smoking area seems to be prohibited as public place is defined as the indoor area serving as a "workplace". Regulations may clarify this situation.

Stacey - July 29, 2008 4:35 PM

Is there anything that specifies where "outdoor smoking areas" must be located in conjunction with entrances to the workplace?? (ie: 10' from a door) May smokers simply stand outside the entrance of the building, which would mean others have to walk throught their "smoke cloud" to enter??

Debbie - August 10, 2008 7:06 PM

If a VFW post allows smoking, will spouses that are nonmembers be prohibited from coming into the post as well as children under 18? My husband is the commander and this has caused a considerable amount of discussion as to what to do for the good of the post.

Debbie - August 25, 2008 4:54 PM

What about trucking companies. My husband works for a union carrier and is a non-smoker. On many occasions he is given a truck that a smoker normally drives, which it's venting system is contaminated with smoke and ashes, causing sinus and headaches. He constantly complains and requests a NON-Smoking truck???? Does he have any rights with this Act.

Melissa - September 11, 2008 10:51 AM

I am interested in the answers to Stacey from July 29th, and Debbie from August 25. I am an office manager at a trucking company. We have "smoking" areas in the back of our building, but they are often just outside the door with a "cloud" as Stacey mentions. I am also interested in the thoughts on the non-smoking truck. I noticed these weren't answered here... were the responses sent direct?

Pat Condelli - September 20, 2008 8:37 PM

I have asthma. The Roman Catholic Church where I attend Mass and sing in the choir uses so much incense (smoke) that I become very ill and have to leave. Does this law apply to the church as well? It's a public place. I am sick of getting sick in church. As Catholics - we are required to attend Mass - so it's not like I can go to another church. This incense is killing me. I want them to stop using it. Can this new law help me?

Mark - September 24, 2008 6:04 PM

If your so concerned about people's health why are you allowing casinp and nursing home smoking. Are the smoking public suppose to quit automatically habits formed over years? Has common sense once again been thrown out the window?

Joe - September 28, 2008 7:27 PM

How does someone report a violation? Employees in our office ignore the law and still smoke in the lunch room.

amie - October 1, 2008 3:00 PM

I've already been in an establishment where the owner is thumbing his nose at the new clean air act. He says he owns a bar and people can smoke in his bar. He also said noone is going to tell on him and if they do, he'll just pay the fine. How do people that agree and embrace the clean air act, turn in the owners of establishments that refuse to follow the law?

Keith - October 15, 2008 3:47 PM

We have a private business which includes a bar without a seperate dining facitliies, no catering or banquets so we chose to allow smoking.
Members insist they bring their underage children with them at times. Our Board ruled, underage children brought by their parents do not have a choice and limited access to the premises to only those over 21. Is there a section of this law that applies to underage children?

tom - February 17, 2009 6:27 PM

this law is a joke. i, am involved with a restaurant that follows the law . we are not on the same playing field of the restaurants who ignore this law. fix it no exemptions!

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