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News Summary

State Steps Up Enforcement Of Smoking Ban

Publication Date: 11/29/2007
  • Author:Andrew DeMillo
  • Publication:Springdale Morning News, AR

The number of inspections of businesses accused of violating Arkansas' workplace smoking ban more than tripled over the past four months as health officials stepped up enforcement of the law.

Arkansas health director Paul Halverson said the state in July dropped its policy of waiting until after multiple complaints have been lodged to inspect a business accused of violating the ban, which took effect last year. Now, the state conducts inspections after one complaint.

"What we did was move to a more aggressive position," Halverson said.

Since July 1, the state has conducted 74 inspections of 45 businesses accused of violating the smoking ban. In the first year of the ban, the state had only conducted 23 inspections, according to the Department of Health.

Legislators approved the ban during a 2006 special legislative session after then-Gov. Mike Huckabee backed it as a way to protect workers' health. Since the ban took effect in 2006, the state has received 665 complaints by phone and online...

The state so far has not yet fined anyone for breaking the law, Halverson said.

"We haven't had a need to, and that's the real reason. We haven't needed to bring a business to the Board of Health for a fine because they've complied," Halverson said. "Arkansans want to comply with the law, and it's a rare occurrence that people are belligerent and don't want to follow it."