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Opinion

May 10, 2013

Legislation victory for health

NORMAN — Gov. Mary Fallin’s recent signature on legislation, giving local communities control over smoking in public parks and municipal facilities, is a victory for public health in Oklahoma.

Norman was one of the first in a handful of cities and towns that had enacted such a ban, but an Attorney General’s ruling found it was a violation of state law. Now, Norman’s ban on tobacco use in public parks, municipal buildings and sports complexes should withstand a court test.

University of Oklahoma officials have also banned tobacco use on campus. Students, faculty and staff seem to respect the rules. The only real problem appears to be on game days, when campus visitors either ignore the numerous signs or choose to light up anyway.

Gov. Fallin had already banned, through executive order, the use of tobacco in all state properties, including vehicles driven by employees.

That would have held up during her term of office, but the next governor would have to do the same within 90 days or it would revert to the old policies.

However, by passing the law, the tobacco ban becomes permanent.

The author, Sen. Frank Simpson, R-Springer, and Rep. Pat Ownbey, R-Ardmore, are to be commended for pushing the legislation.

“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,” Simpson said.

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