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Ark. Governor Rejects Smoking Ban

October 27, 2001

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) _ Gov. Mike Huckabee rejected a proposed restaurant smoking ban Friday, saying that while he personally opposed smoking, the state should not infringe upon the rights of people who smoke.

The governor also questioned whether the ban was constitutional and said money spent fighting possible lawsuits could be better spent on smoking prevention efforts.

Arkansas’ Health Board voted Thursday to ban smoking in businesses that make more than 70 percent of the money from food sales, citing the need to protect workers and patrons.

``I feel an appointed board without direct accountability to the voters isn’t the best vehicle to make such sweeping changes in the law,″ Huckabee said.

The Health Board proposal needed Huckabee’s approval before it could become law.

The governor said that if Arkansans wish to limit smoking in restaurants, they should ask their local governments or the Legislature for new laws or support smoking prevention and cessation programs.

``This was an opportunity for better health for all Arkansans, particularly those who work in those places who really have no choice,″ said Democratic state Rep. Jim Wood, who took the proposed smoking ban to the Health Board after the Legislature rejected it in 1999.

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