Monday, June 25, 2007


I feel the issue here is not loyalty to the bad habits of smoking family members; true loyalty to smokers lies in efforts to encourage them to improve their health and stop smoking. Stopping smoking greatly improved the health of my father, my mother, my wife and scores of millions of other Americans.The issue is public health. Yes, here and there are smokers who lead long and healthy lives. But, on the whole, the more one smokes, the shorter one's life will be, the more one will miss work, the more doctors bills and hospital bills one will incur, and the more costs employers and taxpayers will have to pay to subsidize these health care costs.The Pennsylvania Restaurant Association strongly supports a tough anti-smoking bill. They know it will generate more new business than it loses; they are tired of losing business to people staying home; they are tired of arguing with customers and employees about the risks of passive smoke."The freedom of smokers ends where my nose begins," Rep. Phyllis Mundy said privately and in House debates. She is absolutely right. There are many millions of Americans who have died prematurely because of smoking, and the time has come to dramatically change the culture and get many more people to be healthy.

July 17, 2007


In a major victory for anti-smoking forces, the House tonight killed a weak substitute (Amendment A2970) for the strongly worded anti-smoking in public places bills introduced by Rep. Mike Gerber (D-Montgomery) and Sen. Stewart Greenleaf (Senate Bill 246) (R-Montgomery) by a vote of 113-82.Gerber and Reps Babette Josephs, Daylin Leach, Lawrence Curry and I strongly spoke out against the substitute introduced by Rep. Todd Eachus (D-Luzerne). Speaker Dennis O'Brien, the Northeast Philadelphia Republican generally allied with the Democrats in this legislative session, voted with the majority. Other Republicans in Southeastern Pennsylvania voted against the weakening substitute by a 16-8 margin; Southeastern Pennsylvania Democrats voted against the weakening substitute by a margin of 23 to 7.As I said in my speech on the House floor, the House itself had only banned smoking on the House floor in 1979, and then only on the second vote. The same issues of health versus personal choice raised in debate today were raised in that 1979 House debate. The ban on smoking in the House only passed by a 93 to 91 vote. But I said in my speech tonight that I got headaches after long floor sessions before that vote passed, and not afterwards. I recalled that 7 or 8 House members died in office in the previous two year legislative session (1977-1978) and that is about the number that died in office cumulatively over the past twenty years.Clearly, banning smoking on the House floor has been good for the health of members of the House of Representatives. Banning smoking in public places will also be good for the health of Pennsylvania citizens and will lower health insurance premiums and hospital costs across board over time.I expect that on Saturday, July 14, 2007, the House will pass a strong anti-smoking bill and send it to the Senate, which had passed a greatly weakened version of Senator Greenleaf's bill. The ultimate result should be a much stronger version than the Senate originally passed.

July 13, 2007


It is my belief that banning smoking in public places will add far more business to the eating and drinking establishments than it takes away. There are a good number of people who go out far less than they otherwise would because they feel uncomfortable with all the smoke. Less than 20% of Americans now smoke, and many of these would like to stop smoking.

If the state does pass a smoking ban in public places, this would be a real feather in the cap for Michael Nutter, whose victory in the primary election was in no small part due to his successful passage of the city smoking in public places ban.

June 25, 2007


By a vote of 29 to 21 tonight, the Senate has watered down its anti-smoking in public places bill. All Philadelphia state senators except Sen. Anthony Williams voted for this watering down amendment. Suburban Senators Andrew Dinniman, Edwin Erickson, Chuck McIlhenny ( the proposer of the amendment) Dominic Pileggi, and Tommy Tomlinson voted yes, while Senators Stuart Greenleaf and and John Rafferty , Connie Williams and Rob Wonderling voted no.Full or partical exemptions were added covering long-term care facilities, facilities for community mental health, drug and alcohol addiction treatment, cigar bars, gaming floors, private clubs; drinking establishments, and exhibitions for tobacco products.These are loopholes big enough to drive a truck through, but there still would be areas where smoking would be banned. If this is enacted, smoking would still be banned in restaurants that are not considered to be bars, public meetings, educational facilities, school buses, health facilities, auditoriums, arenas, theaters, museums, restaurants, concert halls, commerical establishments, retail stores, service lines, grocery stores, bingo halls, waiting rooms, hallways, polling places, restrooms, sports arenas, general uses of convention halls, elevators, public transit, public food assistance program and facility, shopping malls, general uses of exhibition halls, rotundas or lobbies, and at least 3/4 of sleeping quarters of hotels.On the other hand, there is little smoking that takes place in most of the places where smoking is banned, and a lot of smoking in the places where exemptions were included.I favor the strongest possible statewide smoking ban. I will be working with others to achieve this end.

June 25, 2007


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