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February 10, 2013

Fallin for restoring communities’ rights

NORMAN — Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, in her State of the State address Feb. 4, called for the restoration of local rights for Oklahoma communities, which would allow Oklahoma communities to determine their own ordinances for smoke-free businesses, restaurants, bars and other areas.

The Tobacco Free Cleveland County Coalition works on the local level to prevent and help eliminate tobacco use in the community.

“Ten cities in Oklahoma have already stepped forward with resolutions that ask for the return of local control to determine our own 100 percent smoke-free workplace ordinances, and the governor is standing with us,” said ReRe Lunsford, chair of the TFCC. “We are at the tipping point of being able to make our communities healthier and more competitive by being smoke free. We hope cities in Cleveland County will join the effort by passing resolutions and showing support for the return of this right to our communities.”

Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in Oklahoma. It costs more than 6,000 Oklahomans their lives each year, and the financial burden from tobacco use falls on every Oklahoma business and citizen.

“Not only is tobacco use taking a personal toll in increasing preventable disease and early death among Oklahomans, but its associated costs will endanger the economic growth of our communities and our state regionally if we fall further behind,” said Tracey Strader, Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust executive director.

Currently, Oklahoma law prohibits municipalities from making smoking laws stronger than the state law. 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.

To date, ten communities in Oklahoma have passed resolutions supporting the restoration of local rights, including Oklahoma City, Sand Springs, Seminole, Tahlequah, Muskogee, Elk City, Hulbert, Prague, Clinton and Cordell. 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 smoke-free workplace ordinances.

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