What Is the Clean Indoor Air Act?

The Clean Indoor Air Act (CIAA) was signed into law by the Pennsylvania legislature on June 13, 2008. The act prohibits smoking in public places or workplaces and lists examples of what is considered a public place. It also imposes penalties for those establishments in noncompliance, as well as those individuals smoking in prohibited areas. The goal of the CIAA is to protect Pennsylvanians from the harmful effects of secondhand and thirdhand emissions. However, the bill allows for some exceptions.

In Pennsylvania, over 2,054 venues are exempt from the CIAA, leaving many exposed to harmful carcinogens.[1] Current exemptions to the law include:

    • Bars with 20% or less revenue from food
    • Casinos (up to 50% of the gaming floor)
    • Hotel/Motels (up to 25% of rooms)
    • Private clubs and private residences
    • Tobacco Shops
    • Cigar Bars
    • Truck stops with shower facilities
    • Outdoor sports, recreational facility, theater or performance establishment
    • Tobacco manufacturer cigar exhibitions
    • Non-profit fundraisers that feature tobacco products

Additionally, e-cigarettes are not included under Pennsylvania’s Clean Indoor Air Act, leaving workers and patrons exposed to secondhand emissions. Only by enacting a comprehensive law can we give all Pennsylvanians the protection they deserve.

What Are Secondhand and Thirdhand Emissions?

Secondhand smoke is the combination of smoke from the burning end of a cigarette and the smoke breathed out by smokers. Secondhand smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals. Hundreds of the chemicals are toxic and about 70 can cause cancer.[2] Secondhand smoke is a known cause of lung cancer, heart disease, and chronic lung ailments such as bronchitis and asthma, particularly in youth.[3] More than 41,200 nonsmokers die every year in the United States from heart disease and lung cancer caused by exposure to secondhand smoke. According to the Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke.

Vaping also produces secondhand emissions. Instead of creating smoke, an e-cigarette vaporizes e-juice to form an aerosol, which the user inhales and then exhales into the environment. This aerosol is not “just water vapor” as many tobacco companies claim. The aerosol contains nicotine, ultrafine particles and other toxins including formaldehyde, nickel and lead. Both the U.S. Surgeon General and the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine have warned about the risks of inhaling secondhand e-cigarette emissions.

Thirdhand emissions refers to the nicotine and other chemicals that are left on indoor surfaces by e-cigarettes and combustible tobacco products. Thirdhand smoke clings to clothes, furniture, drapes, walls, bedding, carpets, vehicles and other surfaces long after smoking has stopped. It can remain on these surfaces for weeks, months, or even years and can build up over time.

Nonsmoking adults, youth and pets may all be at risk of tobacco-related health problems if they inhale secondhand emissions or inhale, swallow or touch substances containing thirdhand emissions.


TRU recommends a comprehensive clean indoor air policy that removes exemptions and extends full protection from the effects of secondhand emissions to protect all Pennsylvanians.

Get Involved

1) Plan a petition signing event at your school or around your community to gather signatures for our Clean Indoor Air Petition, then mail the signatures to your local legislator. Find the materials needed to complete this activity in the Resources section below.

2) Tell us why YOU believe a comprehensive clean indoor air law is important by starting a social media campaign using the hashtag #CleanIndoorAirPA and tagging @TRUinPA.

Why Is This Important & How Does It Affect You?

Allowing businesses like bars and casinos to permit smoking and vaping not only impacts the health of employees and customers of those businesses; these exemptions can affect entire households. Do you know any family members who work somewhere that permits smoking? Being exposed to secondhand emissions while they work puts them at risk for tobacco-related health problems. The nicotine and other chemicals from those emissions will also cling to their clothes even after they return home, which can lead to harmful thirdhand emission for the rest of the family.

Additionally, comprehensive clean indoor air policies are an important tool to keep youth tobacco-free.[4] Effective tobacco-free policies result in fewer people modeling smoking behavior. It also limits youth exposure to a product they aren’t old enough to have access to, which makes them less likely to use tobacco products in rebellion. Plus, these policies help promote nonsmoking as the norm.

Removing exemptions from Pennsylvania’s CIAA would not only protect nonsmokers from exposure to toxic secondhand and thirdhand emissions, but it would help prevent youth from using tobacco products.

How Can I Get Involved?

Plan a petition signing event at your school or around your community to gather signatures for our Clean Indoor Air Petition. Then mail the signatures to your local legislator to show them how much support there is for comprehensive clean indoor air policies. Find the materials needed to complete this activity in the Resources section below.

Help us build awareness around this important issue by sharing the completed worksheet or information from this page on social media using the hashtags #CleanIndoorAirPA and tagging us @TRUinPA!

Plan a TRU Storm to educate others about the dangers of secondhand and thirdhand emissions, and the need for comprehensive clean indoor air policies.


[1] Pennsylvania Alliance to Control Tobacco (PACT). Clean Indoor Air. Available at

[2] U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. Health Effects of Secondhand Smoke. Available at

[3] Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (2018). Health Harms from Secondhand Smoke.

[4] Song AV, Dutra LM, Neilands TB, Glantz SA. Association of Smoke-Free Laws With Lower Percentages of New and Current Smokers Among Adolescents and Young Adults: An 11-Year Longitudinal Study. JAMA Pediatr. 2015;169(9):e152285.