Arkansas bans smoking in most public places

Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a champion of healthy living, signed into law a ban on smoking in most indoor public places. "There's probably some crying towels being passed out in the tobacco industry today," joked the governor, who has lost 100 pounds and exercises regularly. The law exempts hotels and motels with fewer than 25 rooms, tobacco shops, nursing homes and home-based businesses with fewer than three employees. Also, it would not affect some bars. Violators can be fined $100 to $500. Legislators also sent the governor a bill to ban smoking in cars with children inside, but he had yet to sign it late Friday. The legislation would ban smoking in vehicles when there is a child present who is younger than 6 or weighs less than 60 pounds and is restrained in a car seat. The sponsor, Democrat state Rep. Bob Mathis, said, "It galls me to no end to see people smoking in the car with the windows up and that poor little child in there can't do anything about it." Mathis said he knew of no other states with a similar ban. Huckabee seemed inclined to sign it. "The more people we can protect from secondhand smoke, the better," Huckabee said. "I think it's a great bill. I'm delighted." At least, 14 states and the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have now enacted smoking bans in most indoor public places.