Gov. Mary Fallin to lead anti-smoking drive

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin says she will lead an initiative petition drive to put tobacco regulations on a ballot to let voters decide. Plans are for the issue to be decided in the November 2014 election.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT mmcnutt@opubco.com Modified: February 19, 2013 at 9:15 pm •  Published: February 19, 2013

Gov. Mary Fallin, foiled by lawmakers who rejected an anti-smoking proposal she backed, is taking her fight to the people.

The Republican governor said Tuesday in a room filled with anti-smoking advocates and supporters that she is leading an initiative petition drive to put tobacco regulations on a ballot to be decided by the people.

Details still are being worked out, but a spokesman for the governor said the proposal will contain language that would let cities and towns write their own anti-smoking laws. Oklahoma is one of two states that doesn't allow cities and towns to write anti-smoking laws stricter than state law.

Fallin's announcement came one day after a state Senate committee defeated a bill that would have let cities and towns craft their own anti-smoking laws. The issue is dead in the GOP-controlled Legislature for the next two years.

“The tobacco interests may have won a battle yesterday, but they didn't win the war,” said Fallin, who was wearing a “Don't Smoke on Me” sticker. “Now it's time to take the issue to the people of Oklahoma.”

Fallin had asked lawmakers to pass legislation restoring local control to cities and towns regarding tobacco use in public places.

“There's an old saying that says a setback is an opportunity for a comeback,” she said. “So today's our comeback. “

Fallin said language for the proposed petition drive is being developed. It could be as expansive as a statewide ban of tobacco on public property.

State law bans smoking in most public buildings. It is allowed in bars and in separately ventilated rooms in restaurants.

Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett said he wants to see the ballot language before he supports it.

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