by Damon Boughamer
Public Radio Capitol News, serving Pennsylvania
Harrisburg, Penna. (PRCN, 1 February 2007) - A statewide indoor smoking ban advanced through a state Senate committee as that panel's first act of the year. But proponents say they have much more work to do.
Bill Godshall heads Smokefree Pennsylvania, which has been asking the legislature for years to make smoking illegal in bars, restaurants, offices and other workplaces - no exceptions.
Godshall says he's pleased that a bill cleared the Senate Public Health and Welfare committee.
He says the tough part is still ahead: trying to make sure the proposal is not gutted during consideration by the full Senate.
"We are especially concerned about preserving the rights of the existing local ordinances. And what they'll try to do is get a bunch of exemptions in the state law. That would mean you could have smoking once again allowed in locations in Allegheny County and in Philadelphia
and in Scranton," Godshall says.
The Senate committee approved the ban on a 9-2 vote. Republican Mary Jo White of Venango County and Democrat Vince Hughes of Philadelphia were the dissenters.