Smoking bill to be health care priority in Oklahoma, health commissioner says

A smoking bill will be a health care priority next legislative session in Oklahoma.
by Jaclyn Cosgrove Published: December 12, 2012
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During the state's next legislative cycle, Oklahoma health leaders will yet again try to pass a bill that would allow communities to pass their own smoking ordinances.

Health Commissioner Terry Cline said at Tuesday's state board of health meeting that this bill would help bring about important change for the health of Oklahoma residents.

“More people die from heart disease related to tobacco than from all forms of cancer combined caused by tobacco, and most people don't realize that,” Cline said.

Oklahoma state law prohibits municipalities from making their smoking laws stricter than state law. Oklahoma and Tennessee have the strictest laws in the nation on what cities can do regarding smoking ordinances, according to the state Health Department.

About 6,000 Oklahoma residents die each year from tobacco-related illnesses, Cline said. One in four, or about 650,000, Oklahoma adults are current smokers, according to the state Health Department.

Fourth attempt for bill

This will be the fourth time the state health board has tried to get this type of bill passed, Cline said.

During the last legislative session, House Bill 2267 would have allowed local governments to adopt ordinances to control smoking in public places.

The bill made it through the state House of Representatives but stalled in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.

Sen. Brian Crain, R-Tulsa, was the chairman of that Senate committee when the bill came through.



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