Back in September, the Pennsylvania legislature introduced H.B. 1657, a bill that would remove exemptions to a smoking ban implemented with the Commonwealth’s 2008 Clean Indoor Act. The removal of these exemptions would lead to a more widespread indoor smoking ban that would have included cigar bars, tobacco shops, private cigar lounges, and tobacco manufacturer workplaces. This past week, an amendment was adopted by a 13-11 vote in the Pennsylvania legislature’s House Health Committee to keep cigar bars, tobacco shops, private cigar lounges, and tobacco manufacturer workplaces exempt. The Premium Cigar Association commended the effort of Pennsylvania Representative Heather Boyd of Delaware County for getting the amendment added to the bill.
While owners of cigar bars, tobacco shops, and tobacco manufacturer workplaces can breathe some relief, there still is a part of the proposed legislation that gives local governments the authority to enact stricter anti-smoking ordinances than that of the Commonwealth, lifting the state law preemption ban and providing flexibility based on local needs.
The amendment allows for outdoor patios not fully enclosed in food and drink establishments to permit smoking. Additionally, cigar bars and cigar smoking lounges in private clubs will be allowed to continue indoor smoking if they meet specific air filtration standards.
Meanwhile, the bill remains active in the legislature. If passed, exemptions to the Clean Indoor could be removed for
- Private Clubs
- Exhibition Hall
- Conference Center
- Catering Halls
- Long-Term Care Facilities
- Full-Service Truck Stops
“We are grateful for Representative Boyd’s amendment to exempt cigar lounges, shops, and bars and for the committee’s recognition of the important role Pennsylvania plays in the premium cigar industry. Ultimately, the local authority provisions are problematic, and Pennsylvania retailers, consumers, and manufacturers should still oppose the legislation as currently written,” says Greg Zimmerman, President of the Pennsylvania Premium Cigar Retailers Association in a statement.
The Premium Cigar Association (PCA) said it submitted written testimony in opposition to H.B. 1657 at the opening hearing on the bill and generated over 1,300 messages to the committee, noting the impact on Pennsylvania small businesses and popular cigar smoking destinations.