Lawmaker looking to get stricter smoking laws in Oklahoma

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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.

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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of KOKI FOX23 - Tulsa

billw001 - 12/16/2012 8:44 PM
0 Votes
Just what we need. More laws to take away freedom. I quit smoking 4 years ago and I think if law makers want to do anything, they need to outlaw tobacco all together. Either that or leave people alone.... While on the subject, what about booze..... Lets make stricter laws for that as well.

aleman - 12/16/2012 7:12 AM
0 Votes
A very strange law from a state that turns its' back on the rampant meth use.

aleman - 12/16/2012 7:03 AM
0 Votes
There will soon be more laws against tobacco than meth or pot

roadster05r - 12/14/2012 9:14 AM
0 Votes
Why don't we outlaw stupid politicians, instead?

Anonymous - 12/14/2012 8:27 AM
0 Votes
When did we become a nation that is so interested in taking liberties from others? Smoking rights should be first come first serve. If someone is smoking, and you don't like it, stay away from them. If someone is there not smoking and you want to smoke ask them if they mind. If they say they do mind, them move on to smoke. But stop making law that controls every little action. I know the government likes to have that power, but it shouldn't. The owner of the establishment should have the final say. Let us run our own businesses. Headed toward a totalitarian police-state. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, stripped from "We The People".

CowBot9000 - 12/14/2012 6:50 AM
1 Vote
"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." -C.S. Lewis

cptspacecase - 12/14/2012 6:18 AM
0 Votes
i just wish that smokers wouldnt smoke all the way to the doors of a business then put it out and go inside. i personally hate walking outside thinking about a nreath of fresh air and all i get is stale second hand smoke from the others huddled there feeding thier addiction.

debbntulsa - 12/14/2012 6:07 AM
1 Vote
How about laws that gave business owners more FREEDOM to choose what type of customer they want to cater to? what a concept!

Tinkersgirl - 12/14/2012 4:27 AM
0 Votes
As a smoker myself, I think that I pay enough in taxes to make it my choice when or if I will quit. I abide by all the "no smoking" signs, I don't make others inhale my horrible addiiction (and I know its a horrible addiction) but I feel better smoking then taking pills to quit which are also addictive and mind altering. Once you get all the smokers to quit, how will OK gain back the sales taxes lost on the smokers? Why does marijuana legalization seem closer than ever? lmao

Unwashed Mass - 12/13/2012 11:28 PM
1 Vote
If Broken Arrow wants to become Oklahoma's most uptight town, by all means let them. People will spend their money where they want.
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