By Casey Peacock: PNT Staff Writer
The era of smoking in public places has come to an end as The Dee Johnson Clean Indoor Air Act takes effect today.
The law has been designed to eliminate smoking in enclosed indoor workplaces that include restaurants, bars and other workplaces such as retail and office spaces and indoor public places.
“This is a law that is really intended to improve the health of everybody,” said Terry Teti, executive director of Community Resources, Inc. and grant coordinator of the Roosevelt County Tobacco Use Prevention and Control.
Teti and her staff have been busy mailing out literature concerning the law to local businesses. On Thursday, she spent the majority of the day fielding phone calls from local businesses that had concerns and questions about the impending law, she said.
“Everyone has been pleasant, they just wanted clarification,” Teti said.
Portales City manager Debi Lee stated that signs were being posted on all city buildings and accommodations made for those employees that do smoke. Enforcement of the law will be done by the Portales Police Department, she said.
“We’re going to enforce the law. We have an obligation to enforce it. We don’t have a choice, it is a state law,” Lee said.
Thane and Sandy Floyd, owners of the Daylight Donuts, stated that they have three or four customers that come into the establishment early in the morning and smoke with their coffee and are usually gone by around 6:30 a.m. Though the customers are upset about the law, they know that they have to abide by it, the couple said.
“We don’t think it’s going to be much of a problem for us,” Sandy said.
Officers with the Portales Police Department will be enforcing the law for the city. The officers will not be out patrolling specifically to see if businesses are violating the law, but will check into any complaint issued or act if they see a business violating the law, said Chief Jeff Gill.
For now the police department will work with the business and help get the law established and in place. Verbal warnings will be issued before a fine is enforced.
“I think we are going to use common sense and rational thinking with it,” Gill said of enforcing the law.
Fines for the law average $100 for the first offense, up to $200 for the second offense and $500 for the third offense, Gill said.
“The cut through is that no smoking is allowed in public places. It’s a very strict law,” Gill said.
At a glance
Areas exempt from The Dee Johnson Clean Indoor Air Act include:
• Private homes that are not being used commercially to provide child, adult or health care.
• Retail tobacco stores
• Cigar bars
• State licensed gaming facilities, casinos and bingo parlors
• Private clubs that qualify as federal 501(c) non-profits
• Sole proprietors or businesses with fewer than two employees
• Enclosed areas within restaurants or hotels/motels meeting rooms when reserved for private functions provided that the public is not invited and the smoke does not infiltrate other smoke-free areas.
• Up to 25 percent of hotel/motel guest rooms may be designated for smoking
Source: The Dee Johnson Clean Indoor Air Act