- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 4, 2006

PITTSBURGH (AP) — The Pennsylvania Restaurant Association has reversed its long-held position on smoking, saying it now favors a statewide ban in restaurants and other public places.

The group is pushing for an all-inclusive smoking ban for restaurants, bars, casinos and private clubs, said PRA Chief Executive Officer Patrick Conway.

“It should be done on a comprehensive, statewide basis,” Mr. Conway said. “In other states, certain groups have tried to have themselves unfairly carved out of legislation.”

The association changed its position out of concern for the health of employees in the restaurant business, Mr. Conway said.

The move had been debated for years, but a report from the U.S. surgeon general sparked the association to action, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported.

Surgeon General Richard Carmona last week confirmed that secondhand smoke is a health risk and suggested that it be banned in restaurants, bars, casinos, sports arenas and public transit.

Pennsylvania lawmakers repeatedly have proposed a statewide ban on smoking in public buildings but never have succeeded in passing it.

Seventeen states and more than 400 towns, cities and counties have approved strong no-smoking laws.

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