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February 9, 2013

Governor’s tobacco push gaining allies

NORMAN — The plan to restore local control to cities and towns regarding tobacco use in public places came close to passage in the state legislature in 2012. It will likely get closer this year as Gov. Mary Falllin’s backing of the measure is gaining support statewide.

This week, the Oklahoma State Alliance of YMCAs came out in support of the legislation as did Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett. Ten cities and towns — none in Cleveland County — have passed resolutions in support of the changes.

The change would allow cities and towns to pass laws regarding tobacco use that are more restrictive than state laws. Currently, state law takes precedence. Cities that want to further restrict smoking in businesses, restaurants, bars and other public areas are kept from doing so.

States that have passed locals laws and ordinances have experienced a decline in tobacco use rates and have saved millions of dollars and thousands of lives. The Oklahoma State Board of Health and TSET Board of Directors also have passed resolutions in support of restoring local rights that allow cities to pass smokefree workplace ordinances.

Chief opponents of any change are convenience store chains that don’t want to deal with a multitude of laws as they operate in various communities. The support of the YMCAs is part of the organization’s embracing Health People 2020, a federal initiative to create a healthier America. A specific goal is to decrease the number of children who begin to use tobacco.

The Oklahoma State Board of Health and TSET Board of Directors also have passed resolutions in support of restoring local rights that allow cities to pass smokefree workplace ordinances.

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