Legislation aims to ban smoking in more public places

(Evening Sun -- Shane Dunlap)

(Evening Sun — Shane Dunlap)

It seems like ages ago that restaurants offered smoking and nonsmoking sections. Doubt many people miss eating sandwiches that taste like ashtrays.

Five years ago this month, former Gov. Ed Rendell signed into law the Clean Indoor Air Act, which eliminated smoking in most public places.

However, there are some exemptions — such as private social clubs, casinos and some bars — that allow patrons to smoke.

It’s become common knowledge secondhand smoke increases risks for illnesses, such as cancer and heart disease, in nonsmokers. However, the secondhand smoking debate is back on the table.

Rep. Mario Scavello, R-176th District, and the American Heart Association recently introduced legislation that aims to strengthen the state’s current Clean Indoor Air Act.

The new legislation would eliminate Act 27 exemptions that permit smoking so employees and the public aren’t exposed to the toxic air.

Exposure to secondhand smoke causes immediate adverse effects on heart function, blood platelets, inflammation, endothelial function and the vascular system, according to a news release from the American Heart Association. It also causes as many as 75,100 heart disease deaths and 128,900 heart attacks annually nationwide. Long-term exposure to second hand smoke, such as that occurring in a home or workplace, is associated with a 25 to 30 percent increased risk for coronary heart disease in adult nonsmokers.

A recent study published in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation found that smoke-free laws were associated with substantially fewer hospitalizations and deaths from heart and respiratory diseases.

For details about the American Heart Association’s grassroots advocacy efforts, visit www.yourethecure.org.

Want to quit? Check out these smoking cessation resources.

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