If Gov. Huckabee can kick the tobacco habit so can lawmakers. Tobacco companies have larded the campaign treasuries of Huckabee and legislators of both parties and nearly always got their money’s worth, but the workplace smoking bill this week ought to test the tobacco companies’ efficacy.

Tobacco’s interests this time run squarely up against the financial interest of practically all the businessmen in Arkansas, although most of them are silent about the bill. Little that the legislature does will have a greater long-term impact on business’ bottom line than guaranteeing clean air everywhere in the workplace from the board room to the loading dock. All the research proves it. Employees are happier and healthier, there are fewer sick days, and productivity is improved. That is money in an employer’s pocket.

We could mention that employees and customers benefit even more, but such arguments tend to be taken more lightly in legislative halls. So let it rest there.

A few lawmakers, we hear, resent being summoned to Little Rock in haste to give Gov. Huckabee’s presidential bona-fides a boost. Huckabee is in the tentative stages of a presidential campaign based on his good work for public health. So far it rests on his 100-pound weight loss, his crafting of a progressive package to use the state’s settlement with tobacco companies for real public health purposes, and his bold expansions of government-paid health services for the poor. Someone presumably might bring up his veto of a state health regulation that would ban smoking in restaurants and bars a few years back, but the new smoking law ought to stop those critics.

But why should any legislator care to thwart the governor’s vain ambitions if in doing so he imperils the health and prosperity of all of his constituencies, including the real ones as well as those, the working folks, he proclaims?

The cost of silence
Let a fruitcake find a distasteful way to spout his beliefs, like the gay-bashing anti-abortion Kansas preacher who shows up with his flock occasionally to wave signs at a military funeral, and politicians rush to rescind his constitutional rights. First was the Texas flag burner in the ’80s. Republicans thought it resonated with voters to try to amend the First Amendment to the United States Constitution to make that form of speech illegal.

Where will it stop? There are an endless number of ways to express ideas that most of us will find offensive. Our legislatures will be forever outlawing them.

The legislature will be better served to sidetrack the bill to make demonstrations at funerals unlawful. It is cheaper than having the courts do it.


From the ArkTimes store


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

More by Arkansas Times Staff

Most Shared

  • So much for a school settlement in Pulaski County

    The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Cynthia Howell got the scoop on what appears to be coming upheaval in the Pulaski County School District along with the likely end of any chance of a speedy resolution of school desegregation issues in Pulaski County.
  • Riverfest calls it quits

    The board of directors of Riverfest, Arkansas's largest and longest running music festival, announced today that the festival will no longer be held. Riverfest celebrated its 40th anniversary in June. A press release blamed competition from other festivals and the rising cost of performers fees for the decision.
  • Football for UA Little Rock

    Andrew Rogerson, the new chancellor at UA Little Rock, has decided to study the cost of starting a major college football team on campus (plus a marching band). Technically, it would be a revival of football, dropped more than 60 years ago when the school was a junior college.
  • Turn to baseball

    When the world threatens to get you down, there is always baseball — an absorbing refuge, an alternate reality entirely unto itself.

Latest in Editorials

  • The end of an era

    We're sad to report that Doug Smith has decided to retire. Though he's been listed as an associate editor on our masthead for the last 22 years, he has in fact been the conscience of the Arkansas Times. He has written all but a handful of our unsigned editorials since we introduced an opinion page in 1992.
    • May 8, 2014
  • A stand for equality

    Last week, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel became the first elected statewide official to express support for same-sex marriage. His announcement came days before Circuit Judge Chris Piazza is expected to rule on a challenge to the state's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. Soon after, a federal challenge of the law is expected to move forward. McDaniel has pledged to "zealously" defend the Arkansas Constitution but said he wanted the public to know where he stood.
    • May 8, 2014
  • Same old, same old

    Remarking as we were on the dreariness of this year's election campaigns, we failed to pay sufficient tribute to the NRA, one of the most unsavory and, in its predictability, dullest of the biennial participants in the passing political parade.
    • May 1, 2014
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »


2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31  

Most Viewed

  • Another Jesus

    If you follow the logic of Jason Rapert and his supporters, God is very pleased so many have donated money to rebuild a giant stone slab with some rules on it. A few minutes on Rapert's Facebook page (if he hasn't blocked you yet) also shows his supporters believe that Jesus wants us to lock up more people in prison, close our borders to those in need and let poor Americans fend for themselves for food and health care.
  • Pay attention

    If anyone thinks that a crisis with the Power Ultra Lounge shooting, then he hasn't been paying attention to Little Rock.
  • Turn to baseball

    When the world threatens to get you down, there is always baseball — an absorbing refuge, an alternate reality entirely unto itself.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Turn to baseball

    • leave the rules the way they are. teach players how to hit, don't legislate no…

    • on July 20, 2017
  • Re: Pay attention

    • The beautiful new 12th St. Precinct is full of empty rooms: Why not create a…

    • on July 20, 2017
  • Re: Another Jesus

    • Religious charlatans have been around for centuries. They prey on the weak, sick, poorly educated…

    • on July 20, 2017

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation