Pennsylvania House Health Committee Advances Anti-Smoking Bill for Casinos

At a recent event, the Pennsylvania House Health Committee approved a bill that aims to outlaw smoking at the state’s authorized casinos. Dan Frankel, the chairperson of the committee, introduced the Protecting Workers from Secondhand Smoking Act (HB1657).

The decision narrowly followed party lines, with Democrats supporting the bill and Republicans rejecting it, despite the fact that the committee’s approval represents a significant step. The bill was advanced by the Democrats, who presently have a narrow majority in the House. But the party-line split highlights the difficulties the plan would have in later phases, especially in the state Senate, which is controlled by Republicans.

Foundation of the Bill and Existing Exemptions

The current Clean Indoor Air Act of 2008, which exempts casinos from some regulations and permits smoking in up to 50% of their gaming areas, is intended to be amended by the proposed legislation. The law aims to do away with this exception, which will affect casinos’ ability to allow smoking on their property.

Interestingly, the Republicans did not voice any objections about customers being required to go outside in order to smoke, even though they opposed the law. They did, however, express worries about the bill’s wider ramifications, including how it would affect private clubs, which include veterans groups, and about possible “government overreach.”

At recent years, a number of states throughout the country have banned smoking at casinos. When a total ban on smoking was first proposed, states like New Jersey and Pennsylvania also included exclusions out of fear that it would discourage smokers and reduce casino attendance. As of right now, 15 of Pennsylvania’s 17 casinos permit smoking in certain areas of the gaming floor. However, Parx Casino, the highest-grossing casino in the state, has chosen to keep its establishment smoke-free.

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Before the measure is put to a final vote in the entire House, it will probably go through more talks and negotiations to resolve concerns, especially those pertaining to private clubs.

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