The Great Arkansas Smokeout

 May 31, 2006-- Posted at 11:00 pm

JONESBORO-- Smoke filled businesses have become a thing of the past with smoking bans throughout the US.

And now, a smoking ban will be enforced right here in region eight.

It's an act from the legislature to protect the citizens of Arkansas from secondhand smoke in public places... It's something legislators say will leave no one out... The Arkansas Clean Indoor Air Act is different from previous nonsmoking bans.

"Prior no smoking bans singled out particular industries or particular businesses. This applies across the board to everybody." Representative Chris Thyer says.

And for restaurant owners like Sheffield's Carrie Aquino, the bill is a good idea... Most Jonesboro restaurants and establishments are already smoke free.

"I think it's a choice that people make that they can't inflict on someone else. Since second hand smoke kills, we need no smoking," Aquino says.

The only exemptions to the law that will be effective by the end of July are for hotels with less than 25 rooms, retail tobacco stores and Oaklawn and Southland park. Plus...

"Bars are exempt if that bar only allows people to come in that are over the age of 21 years," Thyer says.

However, bars must post a sign warning patrons that second hand smoke is present... And for Sheffield's who has just received their private license, the same rules will apply.

"Even in the period before the law actually goes into effect we'll continue to be non-smoking even though we have a bar," Aquino says.

Thyer says the bill is good for the county both from from a financial and health standpoint.

The projections from the dept of human services right now are that Craighead County alone will save about $400 thousand next year just on second hand smoke related incidents.

"That's the dollar figure but then you've also got the human factor too that absolutely is certainly more important, and it's something I think will be beneficial to all of us," Thyer says.

The Arkansas Clean Indoor Air Act goes into effect July 22nd.