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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
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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 also are prohibited from enacting stricter smoking bans than those already in state law, and according to an attorney general's opinion released earlier this month, cities cannot ban smoking even in city-owned outdoor parks and recreational areas.

Oklahoma, where more than 26 percent of adults currently smoke, has one of the highest smoking rates in the country, and tobacco-related illnesses kill about 6,000 Oklahomans every year, according to Secretary of Health Terry Cline.

A group supporting the initiative called Smoke-Free Oklahoma, headed by Bob Wright of the American Lung Association, will be working with the governor to develop the ballot language and a timeline for when the signature gathering effort will start. Wright acknowledged that a campaign to get the measure approved by voters likely will face fierce resistance from a well-financed tobacco industry.

"I don't think they're just going to roll over," Wright said. "I think probably the primary thing we need to look at is the strength of the people, and from that and through this proposal that the governor has put together, we hope to override that portion of money."

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Sean Murphy can be reached at www.twitter.com/apseanmurphy