Local smokers who have ignored the Utah Indoor Clean Air Act may soon be complying with the law whether they like it or not, say Utah County Health Department officials.

Officials say they will actively promote awareness and compliance with the law among businesses and individuals."There has been a great deal of interest and concern recently about an individual's right to clean air at work and in public places," said Pat Tucker, the Tobacco Free Utah representative from the department's Health Promotion Division. "Our goal is to help restaurants and work sites achieve compliance with Utah's Indoor Clean Air law."

The law restricts smoking in public places like restaurants, work areas, hospitals and public transportation to designated places. In addition, the law prohibits smoking in elevators, rest rooms, stairwells and hallways.

Tucker said employers who designate ventilated smoking areas must see that employees, customers and visitors comply with the law. Employers also may designate entire buildings as non-smoking.

The Utah County Commission recently approved a non-smoking policy that prohibits smoking in all county buildings and in government vehicles and private vehicles used for government business.

While the clean air act is not meant to ostracize smokers, the rights of non-smokers can no longer be ignored, Tucker said.

"We just want a healthy situation for both," she said. "What we'd like to see in Utah County is local businesses to be aware of the law and local employees to be aware of the law."

To meet the rights non-smokers have to not be exposed to secondhand or passive smoke, "We will be urging employers and businesses to comply with the Utah Indoor Clean Air Act," Tucker said. "This should not be interpreted as an attack on the rights of smokers but an opportunity to provide a cleaner and healthier environment for everybody."

The law says employees in all workplaces have the right to a smoke-free working environment. By going smoke-free, some local employers already are providing their customers and employees with a healthier place to work, said Joseph Miner, Utah County Health Department director.