State smoking ban mirrors CMU’s

On Monday, Oct. 15, State House Majority Leader Bill DeWeese declared he would be pushing efforts to arrange a compromise bill to ban smoking in most public places and workplaces in Pennsylvania.

The state’s proposal is similar to that of Carnegie Mellon’s Healthy Campus 2010 Task Force, which aims to abolish smoking on campus by 2010. Suggestions include bringing fraternity residences into agreement with university policy by prohibiting smoking indoors and modifying the policy to state that smoking is permitted only in designated outdoor areas of campus until January 2010, after which the university would become a smoke-free community and smoking would be prohibited in all campus outdoor and indoor areas.

However, on Tuesday, the state’s movement showed signs of slow progress when members of the House rejected a ban supported by Pennsylvania state senators.

Before the legislature’s summer recess, the House endorsed a strong measure, permitting smoking only in private homes not used for day care, cigar expositions, tobacco shops, and fraternal clubs at least 10 years old. In contrast, the Senate agreed to a version that was full of additional exemptions, such as small neighborhood taverns, up to 25 percent of the floor space of a casino, private clubs, private homes that don’t have child care, cigar bars or upscale taverns that stock cigars in humidors, and some rooms in nursing homes and residential treatment facilities.

Most of the states around Pennsylvania have already approved restrictive smoking bans.

Both state and campus-wide smoking ban proposals have stirred up great debate in the Carnegie Mellon community.

“I most certainly support the smoking ban,” said first-year CIT student Grant Newsome. “Personally, I feel that if we don’t allow shooting guns in public places, something that is also potentially lethal, the non-smoker population should not have to be unwillingly exposed to such a serious health hazard as second-hand smoke.”

First-year business major Parth Karna expressed similar feelings of disapproval.

“I find the nature of the government to be very contradictory. Smoking is just like any other drug: It is addictive and potentially lethal,” he said. “If drugs are illegal, why should smoking be any different? Perhaps the government is too protective of its economic interests.”

Others are concerned about the economic disadvantages of approving a smoking ban.

“The economic drawbacks of the smoking ban outweigh the positive health benefits. Therefore, the smoking ban should not be approved,” said Daniel A. Kotovsky, a first-year electrical and computer engineering major.

Students’ views are shared by several state politicians.

Pennsylvania Senator Stewart Greenleaf (R–Montgomery), who has been trying to get a ban for 10 years, favors a bill without the exemptions, an Oct. 19 article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette stated.

Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R–Chester) recently told DeWeese in a letter that he believes it is time to arrange a compromise smoking ban, called the Clean Indoor Air Act; he reiterated the urgency of adopting a Clean Air Act as soon as possible, the Post-Gazette article stated.

Next, DeWeese will assemble a six-member committee to reconcile the differences between the House and the Senate and have a bill ready for Pennsylvania Gov. Edward Rendell to sign before Christmas break, stated Michael Manzo, chief of staff for DeWeese, in an Oct. 24 article in The Herald Standard.