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Lighting up locally: Amendments weaken smoking bill

Publication Date: 3/5/2012
  • Author:World's Editorials Writers
  • Publication:Tulsa World

The state House last week passed and sent to the Senate a bill that was originally written to let local governments ban smoking in public places within their jurisdictions.

The bill, by Rep. Doug Cox, R-Grove, an emergency room doctor, was sought by physician groups and others who realize that smoking is Oklahoma's leading cause of preventable death and who are aware that the personal and public costs of smoking run into the hundreds of millions of dollars.

Unfortunately, the House adopted two floor amendments to the bill that are intended to weaken or derail it.

The more egregious of the two was proffered by Rep. David Derby, R-Owasso. It would let cities, towns and counties adopt ordinances repealing state laws that ban smoking in government offices and other public places, such as museums.

The other, by Rep. Ron Peters, R-Tulsa, would prohibit local governments from prohibiting smoking in private dining and social clubs, including country clubs.

Gary Cox, former director of the Tulsa City-County Health Department, who now holds the same job in Oklahoma County, said that allowing cities and towns to adopt smoking ordinances that are less restrictive than state laws "would be a step backwards in terms of public health."...