The Pennsylvania Legislature decided in 2008 it wasn't enough that businesses had the right to ban smoking.

With few exceptions, the Clean Indoor Air Act took away the right of establishments to determine for themselves if they wished to cater to a smoking clientele.

Now, we're not advocating smoking by any means. It's a dangerous habit, and people would be better off it they never pick it up.

The fact is, though, people do smoke, and the government has no problem allowing tobacco sales. In fact, it relies on smokers and the steep taxes they pay into the common coffers.

With that in mind, why shouldn't businesses be allowed to offer smoke-filled rooms and dirty ashtrays?

People who want to light up will go there; customers and workers who don't will go everywhere else.

The free market would sort it out just fine.

But lawmakers decided to weigh in anyway, and now more than five years later some want to go even further and eliminate all exceptions to the Clean Indoor Air Act.

Under the new proposal, smoking would be banned in all bars and private clubs, on casino floors, in all hotel guest rooms, and outdoor decks and patios at bars and restaurants, all of which were excempted in 2008.

It makes sense to us – or at least it's consistent with the 2008 law.

If public health was such a concern that it trumped personal freedom, lawmakers shouldn't have carved out exemptions in the first place.


One allowed Pennsylvania's then-new casinos to reserve 25 percent of their floor space for smokers, half if casinos could show revenue was higher in areas where gamblers smoked. (It was.)

There was no requirement that there be a barrier between the two sections – one side of the room was for smokers, the other side for non-smokers.

It was nonsense and had about the same effect as a no-peeing section in a public pool. You're still swimming in it.

Yet most lawmakers aren't rallying behind the new proposal.

House Bill 1485 has been sitting in the human services committee since being introduced in June, and this is at least the third time the bill has been introduced. No Yorkers are among its 17 co-sponsors.

Some members of the local delegation fretted over the bill, its scope and striking a "delicate balance."

To us, it seems pretty cut and dry.

Lawmakers should either fully support clean indoor air, or butt out completely.