Huckabee Signs Rules to Enforce Smoking Ban

AUGUST 1, 2006 - Posted at 7:37 a.m. CDT

LITTLE ROCK, AR - Governor Huckabee says most businesses in the state will view clean air as a smart business choice.  That was Huckabee's judgement yesterday as he signed rules that set up procedures for enforcing a statewide workplace smoking ban approved by legislators this year.  He said it was the first time he had held a news conference to sign rules regarding a state law.  The smoking ban went into effect July 21 but the civil penalties for the ban weren't approved by the state Board of Health until last week.

The civil penalties and rules for its enforcement go into effect August 10.  Criminal penalties went into effect with the law July 21.

Violators could face fines of up to $500 for a criminal violation and $1,000 for a civil violation of the new law.

State health officials said they had received about 250 complaints of violations of the new law since it went into effect.

The law allows smoking areas in certain businesses, including small hotels and motels, retail tobacco stores and long-term care facilities.  The law also includes an exemption for bars and restaurants that don't admit people under 21.  At least 130 businesses have applied for an exemption, a spokeswoman for the Arkansas Division of Health said.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)