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Oklahoma City Council votes to discourage smoking in parks

The Oklahoma City Council unanimously approved a resolution Tuesday that declares city parks to be smoke-free. But the city can't enforce its anti-tobacco stance without a change in the state's official opinion about Oklahoma law, the city attorney said.
BY MICHAEL KIMBALL Published: May 29, 2012

Oklahoma City Council members want you to know they prefer if you don't smoke outside in city parks. But there's not much the city can do about it if you smoke anyway.

The council unanimously voted for a resolution Tuesday that declares outdoor areas of city parks to be smoke-free. But unless the state attorney general clears up Oklahoma's official opinion on state laws regarding anti-smoking ordinances, City Attorney Kenneth Jordan said Oklahoma City can't enforce any outdoor smoking ban.

The resolution, recommended by the city Parks Commission, included an amendment proposed by Councilman Ed Shadid that emphasizes the use of signs to notify people in the park of the policy. Shadid provided the council with an example of similar signs in other cities, many of which reflect a policy like Oklahoma City's that isn't enforceable but discourage smoking nonetheless.

Shadid, a physician, said the measure is intended to protect the health of children, whose parents may already politely ask someone nearby to refrain from smoking, but who are unlikely to make the request on their own. But he emphasized the economic development implications for companies that could move jobs here but are concerned with the high health care costs associated with smoking.

“Our health care costs are so much higher here, and part of the reason is one out of four people smoking, and part of that is the messages that children receive,” Shadid said.

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