Tobacco Control

The Northwest Pennsylvania Tobacco Control Program is part of the health education division at the Erie County Department of Health. This program is funded through tobacco settlement funds. Staff in the Tobacco Control Program work in a 13-county area of northwestern Pennsylvania to achieve the following program goals:

  • Prevent initiation of tobacco use among young people.
  • Promote quitting among young people and adults.
  • Eliminate non-smokers’ exposure to tobacco smoke pollution.
  • Identify and eliminate disparities related to tobacco use.

Goals are accomplished by following Best Practices for Comprehensive Tobacco Control Programs provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The program serves 13 counties that make up the Northwest Pennsylvania Regional Tobacco Coalition: Erie, Cameron, Clarion, Clearfield, Crawford, Elk, Erie, Forest, Jefferson, Lawrence, McKean, Mercer, Venango and Warren counties. The Coalition holds regional meetings at least twice per year. The coalition also offers trainings and educational sessions for coalition members and partners interested in tobacco-related issues. For more information about membership or the activities of the coalition, call at 814-451-7855 or send an email.

How We Are Funded

In November 1998, Pennsylvania’s then-Attorney General Mike Fisher and several other state attorneys general reached an agreement regarding a lawsuit against the five major tobacco companies. The Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) with Philip Morris, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco, Brown and Williamson, and Lolliard and Liggett Group settled the states’ lawsuits for recovery of tobacco-related Medicaid costs.

Settlement dollars are to be paid by the tobacco companies to the states over a period of 25 years. In addition, provisions exist to restrict tobacco advertising. On June 6, 2001, then-Gov. Tom Ridge signed into law Act 77, which stipulated how the MSA funds would be distributed in the state of Pennsylvania. Chapter 7 of Act 77 requires the creation of a “comprehensive tobacco use prevention and cessation program” in all of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties.

Have a question about tobacco? Send an email or call 814-451-6700.

What We Do

In addition, the Erie County Department of Health works with several organizations and community partners to provide tobacco education/prevention, cessation and enforcement services to the community.

Prevention

The Erie County Department of Health offers a variety of technical assistance and programming related to tobacco use prevention. For more information, call 814-451-6700.

The department supports the Tobacco Resistance Unit (TRU) programs to engage young people in tobacco prevention and advocacy efforts. For more information or to start a TRU group, visit the TRU website or call 814-451-6700.

Cessation

The Erie County Department of Health and its partners offer tobacco cessation assistance throughout the year. For assistance, call 814-451-6700 or toll-free 1-800-QUIT-NOW.

Other resources for smokers looking to quit include QuitLogix or SmokeFree.gov.

Smokeless Tobacco Cessation Resources

For help quitting smokeless tobacco, visit ChewFree or MyLastDip.

Enforcement

In 2008, Pennsylvania legislation passed the Clean Indoor Air Act. The legislation, Senate Bill 246, prohibits smoking in a public place or a workplace and lists examples of what is considered a public place. The bill allows for some exceptions, including a private residence (except those licensed as a child-care facility), a private social function where the site involved is under the control of the sponsor (except where the site is owned, leased, or operated by a state or local government agency), and a wholesale or retail tobacco shop. It also imposes two penalties for those establishments not in compliance, as well as those individuals smoking in prohibited areas.

For more information about Pennsylvania’s Clean Indoor Air Act, including an updated list of establishments that have an exception and allow smoking, visit the Pennsylvania Department of Health Clean Indoor Air website.

Reporting a Violation

To report a violation of the Clean Indoor Air Act via telephone, please call 1-877-835-9535. You can also report a violation electronically

Signage

The PA Clean Indoor Air Act requires signs for all businesses affected by the act. Businesses must post either a “no smoking” or “smoking permitted” sign, depending on how the law affects the business. Signs should be posted at all entrances.

Some businesses are affected by what is commonly referred to as the “minor rule” and must post signs stating that no one under the age of 18 is permitted in the premises (signs saying “under 21 not permitted” are in compliance with Clean Indoor Air Act).

While it is not mandatory that a business use signs provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Health, the department offers a signage toolkit with “no smoking” and “smoking permitted” signs available for businesses to download, print and use.

Want to Learn More?

Tobacco Prevention Resources for Select Populations

The Northwest Pennsylvania Tobacco Control Program partners with Moore Research to perform regional assessments that guide program development.