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CDC chief: Tobacco use still top killer in Okla.

Published on NewsOK Modified: July 11, 2013 at 6:10 pm •  Published: July 11, 2013

Statistics provided by the United Health Foundation show the state ranks high in the number of cancer and cardiovascular deaths. The state averages about 200 cancer deaths per 100,000 residents, but the rate of cardiovascular deaths is 330 per 100,000 residents — 48th in the nation.

Under current Oklahoma law, smoking is not allowed in most indoor public places, but some exceptions include private offices, bars and restaurants with separately ventilated smoking rooms. Cities and towns are prohibited from enacting stricter smoking bans than those already in state law.

In February, Gov. Mary Fallin endorsed a plan for a statewide vote next year on tighter smoking restrictions, including efforts to reduce exposure to secondhand smoke, after a state Senate committee rejected a bill she supported to allow cities and towns enact stricter smoking bans than exist in state law.

But the state has adopted other programs to counter the harmful effects of smoking including the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust Fund, created in 2000 after the state settled a lawsuit against big tobacco companies. The fund promotes smoking cessation programs and others that improve the health of Oklahomans and fund cancer and addiction research.

"Oklahomans want to have effective programs," Frieden said.

He said the CDC has set a goal of preventing a million heart attacks and strokes over the next 5 years.

"All of this is a core mission for public health," he said.