Oklahoma City (Feb. 4, 2013) – Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin today in her State of the State address called for the restoration of local rights for Oklahoma communities allowing communities to decide to be 100 percent smokefree.
The TSET Board of Directors and Oklahoma State Board of Health have approved resolutions in support of restoring local rights that allow cities to pass smokefree ordinances. To date, ten communities across the state have also passed resolutions asking for the restoration of local rights.
“Governor Fallin’s leadership on this issue is encouraging,” said Casey Killblane, chair of the TSET Board of Directors. “Local governments are highly interested in maintaining a strong economy. Our communities should have the right to debate 100 percent smokefree laws and to enact those laws that improve the health of their citizens and sharpen the economic competitiveness of their businesses.”
Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in Oklahoma. It costs more than 6,000 Oklahomans their lives each year and the financial burden from tobacco use falls on every Oklahoma business and citizen.
“As we move to implement changes necessary to improve the health outcomes of Oklahomans, we strongly believe Oklahoma’s communities should have the same right to reduce tobacco use as most other communities in America,” said State Board of Health President R. Murali Krishna, M.D. “We appreciate Governor Fallin’s bold move to take on the tobacco industry in our state. This is the right thing to do for Oklahomans.”
Currently, Oklahoma law prohibits municipalities from making smoking laws stronger than the state law. States that have passed locals laws and ordinances have experienced a decline in tobacco use rates and have saved millions of dollars and thousands of lives.
“Not only is tobacco use taking a personal toll in increasing preventable disease and early death among Oklahomans, but its associated costs will endanger the economic growth of our communities and our state regionally if we fall further behind,” said Tracey Strader, TSET executive director. “From individuals, to communities, to our businesses, each of us has a role to play to prevent and reduce the use of tobacco. Ultimately, this will improve the lives and livelihoods of all Oklahomans.”
While many Oklahomans successfully quit smoking on their own or receive services through their health care provider, others have contacted the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW or online at OKhelpline.com for free coaching on quitting. The Helpline is funded by TSET, Oklahoma State Department of Health and the US Centers for Disease Control and Protection.