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Opinion

February 20, 2013

Local control denied

NORMAN — Monday’s state Senate committee vote to effectively kill a Senate bill that would let cities like Norman adopt tougher anti-smoking rules is a victory of sorts for the tobacco industry.

But it’s also a victory for convenience store chains and grocery stores with multiple locations throughout the state. Those entities don’t want to have different sets of rules depending on what cities and counties want. It’s much easier, they say, to deal with one set of regulations.

Gov. Mary Fallin had joined with anti-tobacco groups, YMCAs and other healthy lifestyle groups in pushing for the proposal. Oklahoma is one of only a handful of states where local laws can’t be any tougher than the state’s rules. Legislators approved that measure in 1987.

None of our local legislators served on the Senate General Government Committee which voted 6-2 against the proposal. The entire Senate and House won’t get a chance to act as killing Senate Bill 36 ensures the proposal is dead for the next two years.

The bill’s defeat is a major setback to healthy living advocates, the tobacco settlement trust and healthcare workers. Oklahoma needs some lawmakers who put public health ahead of business concerns.

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