At the Arkansas Legislature, it’s against the rules for a lawmaker to have even a cup of water sitting on his or her desk. That cup of spittle with a day’s worth of tobacco juice is fine, though.
A state representative disgusted by the expectorate wants a state law that would rid the House and Senate of Styrofoam spittoons.
“It’s gross,” said Rep. Pam Adcock, a Little Rock Democrat who plans to file legislation that would ban all tobacco products, not just cigarettes, from the House and Senate chambers.
Gov. Mike Beebe, a former state senator, indicated he would support the ban.
“It’s fine with me. I thought it was already banned,” Beebe said.
A law banning smoking in nearly all indoor workplaces in Arkansas went into effect last year. It does not cover chewing tobacco.
“I think we’ve delved into an area that we really have no business making a rule out of, unless somebody’s been spit on or they’ve thrown up because they looked into a cup or something like that,” said Rep. Rick Saunders, a Hot Springs Democrat.
‘It’s not “Gotcha”’
Adcock hasn’t developed a specific proposal but, in general, wants to expand a 2000 law that banned smoking in the Capitol. She said she did not know how many House members use chewing tobacco and declined to name any who do.
She denied that her push for the ban had anything to do with her own smoking.
“It’s not ‘Gotcha,”’ Adcock said.
Her supporters said a ban on smokeless tobacco would be similar to other rules regulating legislators’ decorum while in the Capitol. Chamber policy bars food and drink from the floor.
Adcock withdrew her proposal to change the House rules after about a half-hour of debate Wednesday but told reporters afterward she would pursue the ban when the Legislature meets again in January 2009. Adcock said she did not know if the ban would cover only legislators.