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March 15, 2013

Smoking ban moves ahead

NORMAN — Norman was one of the state’s first cities to ban tobacco use in its parks. That ordinance was in jeopardy after an attorney general’s opinion. New legislation being considered at the state House may make the city’s law more workable.

Senate Bill 501, sponsored by Ardmore Republican Frank Simpson, was approved 44-1 this week. It now heads to the House, where approval is expected.

The measure gives cities and counties the power to regulate tobacco use on public properties. It’s different from Senate Bill 36, which gave cities and towns the right to enact stricter tobacco rules than the state currently has.

Convenience stores and tobacco companies were the big opponents of SB 36. They feared having to deal with different rules in different cities and towns would be unworkable.

After its defeat, Gov. Mary Fallin announced she would push for a statewide vote on the measure. House members should follow the Senate’s lead and give cities and towns this measure of local control. It does not intrude on businesses and helps cities and towns promote healthy lifestyles.

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