Arkansas became one of over 25 states to put into effect a “clean air act”. Act 8, which began as Senate Bill 19, was approved April 7, 2006 and was put into effect July 21, 2006. Clean Air Acts throughout the United States are acts or laws that ban smoking in certain locations or situations, and Arkansas’ Clean Air Act is no different.
The purpose of the Arkansas Clean Air Act of 2006 is to protect Arkansas workers from the damage to their health due to secondhand smoke in their workplace as well as to protect any and all citizens of Arkansas from being exposed to the dangers of secondhand smoke while visiting public places, along with “other purposes”.
The General Assembly of the Arkansas Senate came to the decision to pass this Act due to scientific research. This scientific research proves that non-smokers risk health damage from breathing in secondhand smoke, such as lung cancer, heart disease and chronic lung ailments.Consequently , Act 8 prohibits smoking in all vehicles and in all enclosed areas owned or leased by the State of Arkansas or any other government entity within the State of Arkansas, be it state or local. It also prohibits smoking in all public places within the State of Arkansas and in all enclosed areas located in a workplace.
This Clean Air Act also states that no person should be discriminated against for reporting any violations of this Act. It goes on to state that employers have thirty days to inform all current employees of the provisions prohibiting smoking. Employers also are required to inform any prospective employees of the smoking ban when they apply for a position within the company.
As with most Clean Air Acts, there are exemptions. Exemptions to the Arkansas Clean Air Act include any private residence unless it is a “licensed child care, adult daycare or health care facility”. Hotel and motel rooms are exempt if they are designated as smoking rooms, but these establishments that have over 25 rooms can not have more than 25% of these rooms designated as “smoking rooms.” Another exemption is workplaces with less than 3 employees except in public places. Retail tobacco stores are also exempt as well as any workplace in the tobacco industry. Long-term care facilities can allow smoking in designated areas or by patients that are supervised. Other workplaces exempt are outdoor employers, restaurants and bars licensed by the State of Arkansas who do not admit anyone under 21 years of age, but a health warning sign must be present. The last exemption listed is the “designated smoking areas on the gaming floor of any franchisee of the Arizona Racing Commission”.
According to the Arkansas Clean Air Act, workplaces and public places where smoking is prohibited must post no smoking signs where customers can see them. These same places must also have all ashtrays removed unless the ashtrays were permanently attached to the structure of the building before the Act went into effect.
Penalties for being charged and convicted of violating the Arkansas Clean Air Act are to be regarded as a deficiency by the Department of Health and Human Services and the violator may be penalized as such. Furthermore, any other violation of this act will result in a fine in the amount ranging from $100 to $500.