Act 8 - The Clean Indoor Air Act of 2006 Frequently Asked Questions 

Preguntas Comunes

Q: I know the new state law makes it illegal for people to smoke in enclosed worksites, what should I do if a person is smoking?

Answer: Individuals who observe violations of the law are encouraged to speak to the manager on duty about the requirements of the new law. This law applies to ALL employers and businesses that are not exempt. The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) provides a toll free number (1-800-235-0002) and a website where additional information may be found and complaints may be filed. Complaint forms may also be obtained from ADH local offices.

Q: If a person is smoking in a worksite, who gets the fine -- the person smoking or the manager of the worksite?

Answer: When smoking occurs in a worksite, employees and members of the public may report violations to the ADH. Complaints are investigated in accordance with Department of Health protocol. Based on the results of the investigation, any employer, employee, or member of the public, may be summoned to a hearing before the Arkansas Board of Health. If found to be in violation, the violator may be assessed a civil penalty of up to $1000 per violation. Criminal prosecution of violations of the Act may also be pursued. In criminal cases, any employer, employee, or member of the public, found guilty of violating the Act, may be fined a minimum of $100 and a maximum of $500 per violation. The intent of Act 8 is to protect workers and the public from the health hazards of secondhand smoke. Employers have an obligation to protect their employees and customers by taking steps, such as posting signs and intervening when employees or customers light up. Likewise, employees and members of the public have an obligation to refrain from exposing fellow employees or members of the public to the health hazards of secondhand smoke by not smoking where smoking is prohibited by the law.

Q: How is it determined whether a civil or criminal penalty or enforcement action would be taken?

Answer: A violation of the rules and regulations may result in a civil penalty assessed by the Board of Health. A violation of the Act may result in a criminal penalty as prosecuted by local law enforcement.

Q: If a worksite licensed by the Board of Health is found to be in violation of the regulations, is the worksite as an entity liable or are the individual employees liable?

Answer: Employers or persons in charge violate the law if they allow smoking where it is prohibited by the law. “Person in charge” means any person who has responsibility because of ownership, proprietorship, or management of a place that is open to or frequented by the public. Complaints of violations are tracked and investigated in accordance with Department of Health protocol. In addition to the assessment of civil penalties, the Arkansas Board of Health reserves the right to revoke the license of any entity for which it has licensing authority. This is similar to other violations for which the Board of Health may revoke a license, whether due to the action of the owner or of the person in charge.

Q: Who can I call if a worksite routinely does not enforce the no-smoking law?

Answer: The Department of Health provides a toll free number (1-800-235-0002) and Web site where complaints may be filed, and where additional information may be found. In addition, complaint forms may be obtained from ADH local health units and county offices and returned by mail.

Q: Is there protection for an employee who reports a violation of Act 8?

Answer: Act 8 prohibits businesses from discriminating or retaliating in any way against a person for making a complaint of a violation or furnishing information concerning a violation.

Q: What type of ventilation system is needed to obtain an exemption from the Act?

Answer: None. The Clean Indoor Air Act does not allow exemptions based on the type or design of the ventilation system. Separate ventilation systems are not effective in eliminating the harmful effects of secondhand smoke, which is a known cause of cancer and heart attacks.

Q: I am the owner of a restaurant with a bar. After 10 p.m. I do not allow anyone under age 21 to enter or work in the premises. May I take an exemption to the Act?

Answer: Act 8 requires that restaurants and bars that take the age 21 exemption must prohibit all persons under age 21 from entering or working in the premises at all times. Therefore, the business described in this question is not eligible for the exemption.

Q: What are the kinds of things that personnel from the Department of Health would be looking for when they investigate complaints about worksites that are exempt?

Answer: They would look for a posted public health warning sign and would ask to see a copy of the exemption certificate that should be on file at the business.

Q: How will the term “enclosed area” be interpreted by the Department of Health?

Answer: Act 8 and the rules define an “enclosed area” as all space between a floor and ceiling that is enclosed on all sides by solid walls or windows, exclusive of doorways, that extend from the floor to the ceiling. The common definition of a “window” is an opening in a building for letting in light or air or for looking through. However, the Department will allow smoking in areas that have openings that encompass at least half of at least one prominent wall, so long as the openings cannot be closed or locked.

Q: What are the kinds of things that the Department of Health personnel would be looking for in worksites that are not exempt from the Clean Indoor Air Act?

Answer: They would look for evidence that smoking is taking place, such as the smell of cigarette smoke and the presence of ashtrays or other indications of smoking.

Q: What is the penalty for restaurants or bars that violate their exempt status by allowing either a patron or a worker to enter that is under 21 years of age?

Answer: Any employer who violates the law is subject to civil, criminal and regulatory penalties as provided by law.

Q: I own a beauty salon, which is located in my home. Only my daughter and I work there. May I allow smoking since we have fewer than 3 employees?

Answer: Even with fewer than 3 employees, the business you describe is not eligible for an exemption, because it is open to the public.

Q: Act 8 requires employers to notify both current employees and employee applicants that no smoking is allowed within their places of business. What type of notification would be considered sufficient to meet this requirement?

Answer: Posting a sign in a conspicuous place stating that the workplace is smoke-free would be sufficient. Such a notification sign may be downloaded from the website or requested by calling the toll free number: 1-800-235-0002.

Q: I’m a smoker, and I smoke outside at work. How far from the door do I have to be when I smoke?

Answer: The Clean Indoor Air Act does not regulate smoking outdoors, so the distance from the door is not specified. However, if you do smoke outside, you should smoke far enough from the door to prevent the smoke from infiltrating into the enclosed area of the business.

Q: Is smoking allowed in an outdoor seating area of a restaurant, such as a patio?

Answer: Yes.

Q: The Clean Indoor Air Act does not permit smoking in government-owned vehicles. What about privately-owned vehicles?

Answer: Act 8 does not address smoking in vehicles owned by non-governmental or private businesses or by private individuals. Therefore smoking is permitted in such vehicles. However, the Arkansas Protection from Secondhand Smoke for Children Act of 2006 (Act 13) prohibits smoking in all motor vehicles in which a child, who is less than 6 years of age and who weighs less than 60 pounds, is restrained in a child passenger safety seat as required by Arkansas law.

Q: What is Act 8 and when does it go into effect?

Answer: Act 8 is also called the Clean Indoor Air Act of 2006. It protects employees and the public from the health hazards of secondhand smoke by prohibiting smoking in worksites and in public places. The Act becomes effective on July 21, 2006. A copy of the Act and other information can be found on this website, or a copy may be requested at the toll-free number: 1-800-235-0002.

Q: What is Act 13 and when does it go into effect?

Answer: Act 13 protects young children from secondhand smoke by making it a primary offense for persons to smoke in vehicles where children in car seats are also present. The fine is $25, which may be waived for the first offense if the offender enrolls in a smoking cessation program. It also goes into effect on July 21, 2006.

Q: What is my responsibility as an employer for informing my employees about Act 8?

Answer: The law states that all employers must notify their employees that the workplace is smoke-free within 30 days of the effective date of the Act. Posting a sign in a conspicuous place at the worksite would be sufficient. Such a notification sign may be downloaded from this website or requested by calling the toll-free number: 1-800-235-0002.

Q: I am choosing to take an exemption for my business from the Act. What do I need to do?

Answer: There are three types of exemptions that require the business owner or operator to certify the exemption with the Department of Health. 1) Hotels and motels with fewer than 25 guest rooms that choose to designate more than 20% of the guest rooms as smoking rooms. 2) Employers with fewer than 3 employees that choose to permit smoking at the worksite, as long as it is not open to the public. 3) A restaurant or a bar that does not permit anyone less than 21 years of age to enter or work on the premises at any time and chooses to permit smoking. A business may obtain an exemption certification form from the website or by calling the toll-free number 1-800-235-0002. The exemption certification should be returned to: Arkansas Dept of Health, Environmental Health Branch, 4815 West Markham Street, Slot 46, Little Rock, AR 72205.

Q: What type of physical modifications do I need to make to my business to allow smoking indoors?

Answer: Act 8 does not allow businesses to permit smoking indoors based on building modifications. There are, therefore, no physical modifications to the enclosed area of your business that will qualify you for an exemption under this law. Smoking is allowed in outdoor areas only. We encourage careful consideration when constructing or altering smoking areas for your employees or customers to make sure that the area meets the definition of an outdoor area. As a service to you, the Department of Health offers a plan review, so that you may seek advice prior to making costly physical changes to your facility. We also encourage you to submit photographs of any facility in question. For information about how to submit a plan or photograph, please call 1-800-235-0002.

Q: May we smoke in the garage where I work if the garage doors are open?

Answer: No, any area of a business that has a closable or lockable door, including garage bays, would be considered an enclosed area, and smoking is not permitted under Act 8.

Q: Can I build a building just for smokers at my business?

Answer: No, Act 8 does not allow smoking in any enclosed area.

Q: What about a break room just for smokers?

Answer: No, such a room would be considered an enclosed area, and smoking would not be permitted there. Smokers must go outside to smoke.

Q: May I smoke in my private office after hours?

Answer: No, you must go outside to smoke.

Q: May my employees smoke inside the building after we are closed for business?

Answer: No, they must go outside to smoke.

Q: How can I best accommodate my employees who smoke?

Answer: Employers may provide an outdoor covered area with ashtrays for their smoking employees (and patrons). However, we suggest that employers can best assist their employees by encouraging smoking cessation. Employers may find out more about how to encourage their employees to quit tobacco by calling 1-800-235-0002 or visiting this website.

Q: Is it legal for employees to sit in their cars at their worksites and smoke?

Answer: Yes, Act 8 does not regulate smoking in privately owned vehicles.

Q: May police officers smoke in their patrol cars?

Answer: No. Smoking is not allowed in government-owned vehicles.

Q: Does Act 8 apply to federal properties, such as post offices and military bases?

Answer: No, the law does not apply to federal properties, unless the facility chooses to voluntarily comply with the state law.

Q: Does Act 8 apply to county buildings and offices?

Answer: Yes.

Q: Does Act 8 apply to fire stations?

Answer: Many firefighters have contracts that require that a smoking area be provided for them. Yes, the law applies to fire stations. No contract can violate state law.

Q: Does Act 8 apply to group homes?

Answer: Yes, it applies to both the residents and employees of group homes. Only private residences are exempt from the law.

Q: Does Act 8 apply to ball fields and other outdoor sports facilities?

Answer: No.

Q: Does Act 8 apply to private clubs and bars?

Answer: Yes.

Q: Does Act 8 apply to penny arcades (mini casinos)?

Answer: Yes.

Q: I have a barber school with students only and no public. May I permit smoking?

Answer: No.

Q: I own a bar, and one night a week it is open for teens between 16-18 years of age. May I take an exemption at other times, if I do not allow anyone under 21 years of age to enter then?

Answer: No, Act 8 states that bars and restaurants are only eligible for an exemption if owners or operators do not permit anyone under 21 years of age to enter the premises at anytime.

Q: Can a maintenance worker or cleaning person less than 21 years of age enter an exempt restaurant or bar after business hours?

Answer: No, the law requires that exempt restaurants and bars “prohibit at all times all persons less than 21 years of age from entering the premises.”

Q: I own a Laundromat. Do I need to hire someone to make certain the public does not smoke there?

Answer: No. However, you should take reasonable steps to ensure that the public is aware that smoking is not allowed. “No Smoking” signs may be purchased at local hardware stores or discount centers. Signs may also be obtained from this website or by calling 1-800-235-0002.

Q: The bar and the restaurant in the hotel that I operate are exempt from Act 8, because my hotel has more than 25 guest rooms. Is that correct?

Answer: That is not correct. Smoking is not permitted in any public area of any hotel or motel. In addition, in hotel or motels with more than 25 guest rooms, no more than 20% of the rooms rented to guests may be designated as smoking rooms. Hotels or motels with fewer than 25 rooms are exempt from the requirement to designate no more than 20% of the guest rooms as smoking rooms.

Q: I operate a bar that does not serve food. Does that mean we are exempt from Act 8?

Answer: No, there are no exemptions in Act 8 based on whether or not an establishment serves food.