Smoke ‘Em if you Got ‘Em

Today could be the last day for smoking in bars and restaurants, reports the P-G’s Anita Srikameswaran. The injunction against the county-wide ban expires at midnight.

“Until we hear otherwise, we’re going to enforce it and treat it as the law in the county,” said Kevin Evanto, spokesman for Allegheny County Chief Executive Dan Onorato.

But don’t throw out those ash trays just yet. Legal efforts spearheaded by Mitchell’s Restaurant and the Smithfield Cafe, and bankrolled by Big Tobacco, will continue through the 11th hour. The Comet will be following the story all day long.

County Solicitor Michael Wojcik expects that today Judge Della Vecchia may grant the request to extend the injunction. But because there is no timeline in which the higher court must issue a decision, the ordinance, at least with respect to bars and restaurants, could be in limbo for a while.

Establishments with fewer than 10 employees and less than 10% of food revenue are exempted from the ban; some feel this dilutes and confuses the law beyond workability. However, those businesses need to have applied in advance for the exemption; the list of successful applicants will be released later today.

The Comet is more concerned about simple compliance; surreptitious primary research has indicated that many tavern owners feel they have some scheme, or the right connections, to defy the ban.

Smokers themselves are more philosophical about the new law; it is well known that they enjoy feeling miserable and persecuted. KDKA quotes an Elaine Price of Hazelwood:

“I’ve already been pushed outside, and treated like a leftover shoestring so to speak, so it doesn’t bother me at all.”

Meanwhile, Eat n’ Park reports an increase in sales at those locations that have already gone smoke-free.

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