|Updated: 12/14/2012 9:14 am
||Published: 12/13/2012 11:03 pm
An Oklahoma lawmaker is pushing for stricter smoking laws.
State Senator Frank Simpson says Tennessee and Oklahoma are the only two states that limit cities from enacting harsher smoking laws than what the state allows.
Currently, there must be a separate ventilation area in Oklahoma workplaces or restaurants if smoking is allowed. However, the state allows smoking in places like tobacco stores and bars.
Many residents FOX23 spoke with say it should be up to the business owners to make the decision on whether smoking is allowed. They say then a person can decide if they want to go or not.
“As long as I can’t smell it, I don’t have a problem with it,” said Heath Avlos.
He’s chosen not go to bars or restaurants that allow smoking after his father died of cancer.
“The father I lost fell from smoking,” he said. “It was tragic.”
Senator Simpson is hoping he can open some eyes with a bill he’s pushing that will put the power to make stricter smoking laws back in the hands of the city government. But not everyone is one board with the idea.
“It’s should be up to the individual,” said Tony Hale, who smokes. “It’s not someone else’s decision to make.”
“If they want to smoke let them smoke,” said Ozzie Osborne. It should be up to the restaurant and bar owners.”
He believes it would be an inconvenience and an infringement on their rights. However, Simpson says it could benefit most people in the long haul by making them think about the decision to smoke. The American Cancer Society of Oklahoma agrees.
“Oklahoma City and Tulsa are in the top seven cities with the highest smoking rates in the U.S.,” said Pat Marshall, the Director of Government Affairs with the American Cancer Society.
She says the organization is working with the senator to change that. Marshall is hoping their push to give local government the power to ban smoking entirely will also improve health.
“It is evidence based that if you have smoke free laws in place it helps people to cut back on smoking,” Marshall told FOX23.
But some people are still cautious about the law. "I’m not a smoker but I think it’s a bad law,” said Osborne.
Marshall says they’re also fighting for the people who work in those establishments.
“There are still people in our state that have to go to work and breathe someone else smoke,” Marshall said. “They shouldn’t have to give up their jobs for their health.”
Avlos agrees. He believes local government could influence healthier choices.
"A lot of people who make the rules don't come from or visit the areas or see the area," he said.
The bill could give local lawmakers the ability to strengthen smoke laws if it passes but not make laws less lenient than other states.