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Okla. governor seeks statewide vote on smoking ban

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 19, 2013 at 6:07 pm •  Published: February 19, 2013

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Gov. Mary Fallin said Tuesday she will push for a statewide vote in 2014 on a smoking ban designed to reduce second-hand smoke and promote a healthier state.

Flanked by dozens of health officials, mayors and state legislators, Fallin's announcement came a day after a Senate committee soundly rejected a bill she supported that would have allowed cities and towns to enact stricter smoking bans than currently exist in state law.

"The tobacco interests may have won a battle yesterday, but they definitely didn't win the war," Fallin said. "A setback is an opportunity for a comeback."

Although details of the ballot language haven't been finalized, Fallin said it could range from giving cities more authority to put bans in place to a statewide ban on smoking in public places. The goal is to have the measure on the ballot in 2014, the same year Fallin is up for reelection.

In order to place a proposed change in state law on the ballot, supporters have 90 days from the day a petition is filed to gather signatures from nearly 83,000 voters, or 8 percent of the number of votes cast for governor in the last gubernatorial election, according to the secretary of state's office.

Fallin said smoking "is a personal issue for me," noting that both of her parents smoked and died from smoking-related illnesses.

"My father died when he was younger than me," Fallin said. "He died before I ever got married. He never saw me run for political office."

A spokesman for R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company declined to comment on the initiative, and a telephone message left with Philip Morris USA was not immediately returned. The companies are the nation's two largest tobacco companies.

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