Thirteen bars in Allegheny County have been cited this year for violating Pennsylvania's Clean Indoor Air Act. The smoking ban was signed into law about a year ago and took effect in September. State police and the Pennsylvania Health Department are jointly responsible for investigating complaints. It's not clear yet what penalties the bars in Allegheny County might face; police say the hearing process is still underway. The Health Department has fined six other establishments around the state. Those violations carry a $500 fine.
Cindy Thomas with Tobacco Free Allegheny says there was a flurry of complaints about possible violations when the law first took effect. But that's dropped dramatically. She thinks businesses have mostly figured out what they need to do to comply with the law.
Tobacco Free Allegheny predicted the smoking ban would actually be good for business, and Thomas says anecdotal evidence suggests that's true. Some restaurants have bars that are exempt from the smoking ban--and Thomas says those restaurants often see sales rise in their non-smoking areas.
Bars can apply for exceptions to the smoking ban if they show they earn less than 20 percent of their revenues from food sales. Bills in the General Assembly would remove those exceptions. Thomas says she doubts those measures will pass.