Smoking Ban Starts Friday Regardless of Opposition

JULY 20, 2006 -- POSTED AT 4:00 P.M. CDT

JONESBORO, AR -- Arkansas' new smoking ban takes effect Friday, July 21. Cigarette smoking will be banned in workplaces, with only some exceptions and those workplaces include restaurants. The new law exempts certain establishments, including bars that do not allow anyone under the age of 21 on the premises.

Smoking is such a big part of so many restaurants across the state of Arkansas, but Friday, that's won't be the case.

"The smokers like to come in here, have a nice lunch and sit back and have a cigarette. Well, they're not going to be able to do that anymore," says Max Parnell, a waitress at The Right Place.

Max Parnell has been a waitress at The Right Place off Johnson Avenue for 8 years now. She says this new law won't only affect her customers. It affects her and the other waitresses as well.

"The employees are kind of upset with it too, because we have to go at least 50 feet back behind the building to smoke our cigarettes. Rain, whatever, hot sun and everything else. It's not right," says Parnell.

Brenda Dupree has recently decided to quit smoking, but she strongly believes this smoking ban is the wrong choice.

"I've been a smoker for 35 years. I chose to quit smoking, but it was my choice. It wasn't anybody telling me that I had to do this," says Brenda Dupree, previous smoker against ban.

And she says that's where the legislators are wrong. She says forcing people to make a decision is not the American way.

"I don't think anybody has the right to step in and make judgment on what the rest of the town or the rest of the state has to do, without giving us a chance to make our own opinions," says Dupree.

Cecil Goad says he's tried to understand both sides.

"I know there are people that can't stand smoke. My wife can't, she's allergic to it. We have to leave places because her eyes burn or her nose waters," says Cecil Goad, a Jonesboro Resident.

But Goad says those who chose to smoke have rights too.

"I think they should have a place for people who smoke and people who don't smoke," says Goad.

Regardless, the decisions have been made and once the restaurants close Thursday night, smoking won't be inside when they open Friday.