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News Summary

Toughen smoking ban, urge activists

Publication Date: 2009-07-22
  • Publication:Arkansas Democrat Gazette

An anti-smoking group Tuesday called for an end to exemptions in the state smoking-ban law passed in 2006.

"We believe firmly that all workers deserve smoke-free workplaces," said Katherine Donald of Little Rock, executive director of the Coalition for a Tobacco Free Arkansas...

There are 475 businesses in Arkansas with exemptions on file at the state Health Department, including 384 for bars and restaurants, which can allow smoking if they refuse to serve or hire anyone younger than 21.

That's up from 350 total exemptions and 260 bar and restaurant exemptions at this time in 2007.

"We're fortunate the Clean Indoor Air Act covers the majority of venues and the majority of people, and now, let's move forward and make it a comprehensive act," said Carolyn Dresser, tobacco control chief for the Health Department...

Genine Perez of Little Rock, who sings in bars and restaurants, said performers "go where the money is," regardless of whether they allow smoking. She said smoking makes her gag when she sings.

"It became a very uncomfortable situation for me," Perez said. "I have rights, too. I want to be able to sing to the best of my ability."

Donald said bars are among the "deadliest" workplaces because of the smoking.

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