NORMAN — A smoking ban that was to take effect Nov. 1 at the state’s 7 Veteran Centers has been altered, officials said today.
The move includes the Norman Veterans Center. The agreement will grandfather in those veterans at the centers who currently smoke and indoor smoking will end on January 1, 2015.
After January 1, 2015, smoking will be allowed only in designated areas outside the building. ODVA will offer counseling and smoking cessation programs. Then all the veterans centers will be smoke free by January 1, 2018.
The agreement was announced Thursday by Sen. Frank Simpson and Representatives Pat Ownbey and Tommy Hardin. The trio have been working with the Governor’s staff, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs (ODVA), and the War Veterans Commission to develop a plan to accommodate those veterans at the state’s seven centers who choose to smoke.
The issue arose after Gov. Fallin banned smoking on all state property, including the state’s veterans centers, on February 6, 2012 with executive order 2012-01.
On April 13, 2012, the governor requested guidelines from the War Veterans Commission, the oversight commission for the ODVA, for implementation of her executive order. No agreement was reached.
In May of this year, Senate Bill 501, which placed the Governor’s Executive order into statute, was passed by the legislature and signed by the governor. The purpose of placing that executive order in statute was to give counties and cities the authority to set smoking standards on property they own or operate.
Since no agreement was reached between the governor and the War Veterans Commission in 2012, no provisions for the veterans centers were provided in SB 501.
The new law will take effect on November 1, 2013 and, technically, smoking would be banned at the centers on that date. However, after several meetings and discussions, an agreement has been reached. The agreement has a phased approach and the ODVA will develop rules for its implementation.