If you like to smoke, you now have fewer places to light up in Arkansas. The Arkansas Clean Indoor Air Act is in effect right now, which means smoking is not allowed in virtually any enclosed space, including restaurants. There are a few exceptions however.
Some of those exceptions are places that will only allow customers and workers over the age of 21, but even with that exception, Governor Mike Huckabee calls today a big step forward for health in the natural state.
Governor Mike Huckabee used Dixie Cafe, a smoke free business for two years as the appropriate place to kick-off the Arkansas Clean Indoor Air Act. Most businesses statewide, including restaurants, are going smoke-free, but some high-profile night spots in the downtown Rivermarket are not.
"When people talk about the exemptions, they're so few and remote. There aren't too many businesses that are willing shut their doors to patrons under 21, but also workers under 21," says Governor Huckabee.
Inside the Flying Saucer you're still allowed to light up and patrons under 21 are still being allowed in. Across the street at the Flying Burrito, it's their first day smoke-free and there is no use for ash trays now, they're headed to a piano bar where smoking is still allowed.
"People are going to know they're placing their health at risk when they enter those places that are exempted," says Dr. Joe Thompson.
The Department of Health and Human Services says the goal is to protect people, not police them and Governor Huckabee hopes voluntary compliance will work.
"The few that want to test it and defy it, there may be a grace period where they'll get a warning, but there will come a time when they get fined," says Governor Huckabee.
Gusano's is one business in the Rivermarket willing to put down the cigarettes.
"It potentially could hurt our bar business, which is a big part of our revenue, at the same time, there's a lot of adults that want to go to a bar and be in the Rivermarket, and don't want to be around all the cigarette smoke,” says Tim Chappell
Eventually, the state hopes all business will go smoke free.
"When nations like Ireland have banned smoking in the pubs, it's not a matter of if, but rather when," says Governor Huckabee.
Rules for enforcement won't be done until next week. That's why places like Flying Saucer are still allowing customers under the age of 21 enter. This ban extends beyond buildings. State vehicles are also smoke free and so are your cars if you have a child in a car seat.