Oklahoma City and Tulsa are among six of the largest cities in the United States that have weak laws regarding secondhand smoke in public places, according to a federal government report released this week.
Meanwhile, 30 of the 50 largest cities in the U.S. have provisions that prohibit smoking in any indoor area, including private workplaces, restaurants and bars, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study released this week.
“Hundreds of cities and counties have passed their own smoke-free laws, including many communities in the South,” Dr. Tim McAfee, director of the CDC's Office on Smoking and Health, said in a statement.
“If we continue to progress as we have since 2000, all Americans could be protected from secondhand smoke exposure in workplaces and public places by 2020.”
State and city leaders say the main reason Oklahoma City and Tulsa do not have their own secondhand smoke ordinances is because they're not allowed to.
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.
Public health officials have spent the past few years working to change the law but have yet to succeed.
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.
Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett said city leaders have been working with the Oklahoma City-County Health Department on tackling the issues of smoking and obesity.
“We have a number of proactive projects and programs on the obesity front, but on the smoking front, we're extremely limited because of state law,” Cornett said.