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May 1, 2013

Gov. signs smoking control bill

NORMAN — Legislation giving communities local control over smoking in public parks and municipal facilities has been signed into law.

Gov. Mary Fallin signed Senate Bill 501, by Sen. Frank Simpson and Rep. Pat Ownbey, on Monday. The measure also places Fallin’s Executive Order prohibiting the use of all tobacco products in state-owned or leased buildings, land and vehicles into state law.

The legislation gives local governments the authority to ban smoking on any property they own or operate, including municipal parks and sports complexes.

Norman has had a policy against smoking in city parks for almost three years, but when the attorney general ruled that local laws prohibiting smoking were violations of state law, that threatened to limit local government control over the use of tobacco.

“This is a victory for public health,” said Simpson, R-Springer. “Parents and grandparents should be able to take their children to the park or to a little league game without having to worry about second-hand smoke — now cities that want to ban smoking in those facilities have the legal authority to do it.”

With this decision Norman’s anti-smoking rules are in force.

“Norman has had a very active healthy community coalition and the discouragement of smoking in public places has been a real priority for the coalition,” Mayor Cindy Rosenthal said. “This is good news for our efforts to promote the healthiest community in Oklahoma.”

According to the Oklahoma State Department of Health, about 6,000 Oklahomans die each year as a result of smoking and 700 die from second-hand smoke.

“I am not surprised by the support this bill has received,” said Ownbey, R-Ardmore. “I think any time we are giving local communities the ability to set policy, we are supporting community efforts to address problems such as second-hand smoke. The legislation gives cities and towns the opportunity to make their public-owned buildings smoke free.”  

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