On June 13, 2008, Gov. Ed Rendell signed into law the Pennsylvania Clean Indoor Air Act (S.B. 246) (the “Clean Indoor Air Act” or the “Act”). The Clean Indoor Air Act will take effect on September 11, 2008.

The Clean Indoor Air Act prohibits individuals from smoking in a public place. A “public place” is defined as an “enclosed area which serves as a workplace, commercial establishment or an area where the public is invited or permitted.” In addition, “workplace” is further defined as “an indoor area serving as a place of employment, occupation, business, trade, craft, professional or volunteer activity.” Several categories of business establishments are explicitly excluded from the Act’s coverage, including certain drinking establishments, many private clubs, certain fundraisers or charitable events, and designated areas within sports and recreational facilities.

Any establishment where smoking is prohibited, which includes any public place for which there is no specific exception, is required to prominently post “No Smoking” signs. Likewise, any entity where smoking is permitted by the Clean Indoor Air Act is required to prominently post a “Smoking Permitted” sign at every entrance to the establishment.

The Clean Indoor Air Act provides for a variety of penalties for entities that fail to post the required signage or that permit smoking in places where it is prohibited. The penalties increase in severity depending on the number of offenses within certain periods of time. An entity is subject to a $250 fine for a first violation, a $500 fine for a second violation within one year, and a $1,000 fine for a third violation within one year of the second violation. Violations are considered administrative if they are found by the Pennsylvania Department of Health, state licensing agency or county board of health, and criminal if they are found by a law enforcement officer; but the fines remain the same whether the offense is considered administrative or criminal. It is an affirmative defense for an entity to demonstrate, through a sworn affidavit, that it “made a good faith effort” to prohibit smoking.

Employers should be aware that the Clean Indoor Air Act contains anti-retaliation provisions, which prohibit employers from discharging, refusing to hire or otherwise retaliating against an employee because the employee exercised his or her right to a smoke-free workplace under the Act.

Covered entities must begin compliance with the Act’s provisions by September 11, 2008. The Pennsylvania Department of Health has printable “No Smoking” and “Smoking Permitted” signs on its website, along with other pertinent information about the Act. The website address is http://www.dsf.health.state.pa.us/health/cwp/view.asp?a=174&Q=251422.