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Up in smoke?

Where there's smoke there's…

$75 in fines. At least, there will be if the smoke is from a cigarette or other tobacco product, and the "where" is one of the many places now declared "smoke-free" by law.

Monday was the first day the Alabama Clean Indoor Air Act was enforced, which prohibits smoking in government buildings, restrooms, polling places, lobbies, hospitals, schools, elevators, buses, cabs and most retail busninesses.

The act came about

as a result of

studies done by the American Cancer Society, the Environmental Proection Agency, and National Institutes of Health over the past decades which determined that tobacco smoke causes serious health hazards, especially for the very young, the elderly, and those already suffering from chronic lung diseases, such as asthma or chronic bronchitis. More recent studies, which proved second-hand smoke to be deterimental as well, have pushed legislators across the country into passing laws that would severly limit smoking in public places. Alabama is the 49th state to pass laws, and the laws aren't as strict as those in other states, with smoking still permitted in restaurants, bars, and even some retail businesses, at the owner's discretion.

"I"m all in favor of it," said Peggy Mobley of Pleasant Home. "I've got a daughter and a granddaughter who are allergic to cigearette smoke and I'm totally opposed to smoking."

Mobley said that she wished the law did carry over into restautants, but was not as concerned about the bars.

"Children don't need to be in bars anyway, and neither does my daughter!" she said with a laugh.

Barbara Harmon of Florala also supports the new law.

"I don't smoke, but my husband does," she said. "As far as my for my kids' sake, I'm for

(the new law). Even in large areas, there's ashes. If I did smoke, I wouldn't mind stepping outside to smoke. Even at home, my husband steps outside to smoke."

Harmon added that there could be even more benefits of the new law than the health and comfort of non-smokers.

"Hopefully this will make everyone quit," she said.

Thomas Hendrix of Andalusia, a retired serviceman, disagrees.

"I think it's wrong," he said. " That's a political thing and that's all it is. Now if you smoke, you have to go halfway into the woods to do anything."

Hendrix said that if the new law affected employees, employers should help them out.

"If they're going to make them go outside to smoke, they ought to have a decent place to do it, a covered area for them to smoke in," he said.

The fines for smoking in the restricted places will be $50 for the proprieter and $25 for the smoker.