Philadelphia becomes latest U.S. city to ban smoking in most public places


PHILADELPHIA, Sept. 14 Philadelphia on Thursday became the latest U.S. city to ban smoking in most public places, making it harder than ever for smokers to light up.

Mayor John Street signed a bill that would ban smoking in all restaurants and many bars, said his spokesman, Joe Grace. Sidewalk cafes, specialty tobacco establishments, private clubs and casinos are exempt.
The bill is expected to take effect in January 2007. Violators could face $25 to $300 fines.
Neighborhood taverns defined as those that get at least 90 percent of their revenues from drinks alone are exempt for two years.
City lawmakers lauded the bill, while saying they wanted to tweak it. Some want to extend the ban to outdoor cafes, while others want to make the tavern exception permanent.
According to California-based Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights, 17 states and 474 municipalities have enacted smoking bans in restaurants, bars and other workplaces. Hawaii begins a ban in November, and Washington, D.C., is going smokeless in January.