Local group wants smoke-free Little Rock but some residents disagree

A completely smoke-free Little Rock?

Do you smoke or do you still visit restaurants that allow smoking?

Smoke Free Little Rock and the American Heart Association are working to provide healthy air for the entire city, but not everyone is on board.

Customers that visit places like Markham Street Grill and Pub think that regulating when and where people can smoke interferes with a person's personal freedoms.

“Let's face it, a lot of people smoke and smoking and drinking go hand in hand,” said Jenny Bane.

Even if you don't smoke, it's likely you know someone who does.

"I don't think it's fair," said Debi McCuin. "It's a legal thing between the cigars, vape pens and cigarettes.”

Both she and Bane are Managers at the Markham Street Grill and Pub in Little Rock.

The goal behind Smoke Free Little Rock is to protect everyone from the dangers of secondhand smoke.

“In 2006, we passed a clean indoor air ordinance for the entire state of Arkansas, but it left out many different businesses,” said Jennifer Knight.

The coalition’s campaign is an attempt to ensure everyone in Little Rock who frequents places like Markham Street Grill and Pub can breathe healthy air, including employees.

“Unfortunately, there's no safe level of second hand smoke for anyone, particularly those who work in these facilities. They are exposed to toxins that are really deadly,” Knight said.

However, employees and customers who do smoke think the laws that are in place now are just fine.

And they think if smoking is restricted then everything else that's considered unhealthy, including food and certain drugs, should be restricted too.

“We've thought about incorporating non-smoking here at the bar and I feel like we'd lose customers. There's only five or six bars where you can smoke here in Little Rock,” Bane said.

Costumers who don't smoke do agree that there needs to be options for everyone.

“There's more places in Little Rock, in the bar and restaurant industry, that are non-smoking than smoking. There are more than enough job opportunities for everybody,” said Mike Foley.

Smoke Free Little Rock insists that banning smoking all together will enhance business, not harm it.

On Wednesday from 7 to 9 p.m. The Fountain will go smoke free in support of the group's efforts.

© 2017 KTHV-TV


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