Arkansas Clean Air Act
The Arkansas Clean Air Act began as Senate Bill 19 when it passed on April 7, 2006, and went into effect July 21, 2006. Act 8 prohibits smoking in most public and private workplaces in order to protect children and the general public from the dangers of second hand smoke. Act 8 makes it a violation for anyone to smoke in a motor vehicle in the presence of any child that is in a car seat. Violations of Act 13 will result in a $25 fine or the offender must attend a smoking cessation program. Violations of Act 8 can result in the employer being subjected to civil, criminal and regulatory penalties prosecuted by the local law enforcement. The law is monitored by the Arkansas State Board of Health and can charge up to $1,000.00 per violation. If the Act is violated, the license of the business can be revoked.
Act 8 prohibits smoking in "enclosed areas" which are defined as spaces that are enclosed on all sides by walls or windows. The enclosed areas include common work areas, auditoriums, classrooms, conference rooms, private offices, elevators, hallways, health care facilities, cafeterias, meeting rooms, employee lounges, stairs, and restrooms. Exceptions to the law allow smoking in retail tobacco stores, private residences, workplaces will fewer that three employees, outdoor areas of any place of employment (excluding health care facilities, schools and daycares), hotel and motel rooms designated as smoking rooms, and restaurants or bars licensed by the State of Arkansas. The restaurants or bars must prohibit anyone under the age of 21 (customers and employees) from entering the establishment.
Arkansas is the seventeenth station in the United States to enforce an act that ensures smoke-free workplaces. The consequences of secondhand smoke involve serious health hazard. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, secondhand smoke caused 2,00 lung cancer deaths per year and 35,052 deaths from heart attacks per year between 1997 and 2001.
Many business owners were worried that their establishment would suffer from Act 13 being enforced but according to a study in Fayetteville, "[T]here is no discernible difference between Fayetteville's economic growth path prior to and since the institution of the smoke-free ordinance. In fact, for the year of 2005, same-store sales at restaurants open at least a year increased 15%." The director of Jacksonville Parks and Recreation and also a member of the Governor's Council on Fitness, George Biggs stated, "Smoke-free workplaces can only help the overall health of our community."