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Rep. Hickman to discuss Tobacco law proposal

Publication Date: 2011-12-07
  • Publication:Alva Review-Courier

State Rep. Jeff Hickman will hold meetings in Alva and Fairview to talk about HB2135, Restore Local Rights, according to Yolanda Creswell of the Woods and Major County Tobacco Prevention Committee from Northwest Family Services Office.

Rep. Hickman will be in Alva: 8 a.m. Friday, Dec. 9 at Northwest Family Services, 620 Flynn St., and Fairview: 8 a.m. Friday, Dec. 16 at the Tin Lion, 119 S Main St.

As authored by House Speaker Kris Steele, HB 2135 would repeal special provisions in current state tobacco laws that prohibit cities and towns from exercising their local right to adopt tobacco prevention ordinances.

It would return that power to locally elected officials to determine the most appropriate measures to address reducing tobacco use in their communities. Oklahoma is one of only two states in the nation that prohibits communities from adopting any ordinance on tobacco that is stronger than state law.

“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 Health Commissioner Dr. Terry Cline.

Cline and Rep. Steele joined with Matt Robison, Vice President of Small Business and Workforce Development from The State Chamber of Oklahoma, and Wes Stucky, President and CEO of the Ardmore Chamber of Commerce, to affirm that passage of HB 2135 would be pro-business.

All agreed that HB 2135 would allow Oklahoma’s cities and towns the opportunity to pass ordinances that would improve the health of their community’s workforce and positively influence continued economic growth for the state.

“Employers reap the benefits from reduced tobacco use among their workers through reduced health and life insurance costs, increased on-the-job productivity, and reduced employee absenteeism,” said Cline. “Simply put, improving the physical health of employees improves the fiscal health of employers.”

Why Restore Local Rights?

Local Leaders are Closest to the People Oklahoma is one of only two states in the nation that prohibit communities from adopting any ordinance on tobacco that’s stronger than state law. The national trend is to return lawmaking power to the local level. It’s time to get government back in the hands of the elected officials who are closest to the people.

Communities need the right to address critical matters of public health and safety. A powerful change process unfolds as a community is allowed to consider meaningful policies founded on research and public support.

Oklahoma’s Health Ranking is 46th out of 50 States! Smoking is Oklahoma’s leading cause of preventable death, costing over 6,000 Oklahoma lives and nearly $2.9 billion each year. Exposure to secondhand smoke causes heart disease, lung cancer and other serious illnesses among non-smokers. No Oklahoman should have to put their health at risk in order to earn a paycheck.

In any given year, three out of five Oklahoma adult smokers make at least one serious attempt to quit. Most smokers become addicted as young people. If current trends continue, an estimated 87,000 children now living in Oklahoma will ultimately die prematurely from smoking.

Healthy Communities = Healthy Businesses Oklahoma communities need the right to improve the health of their citizens, compete for new businesses and new residents, and create a healthier workforce. There’s overwhelming evidence that improving the physical health of workers results in better fiscal health for employers. A healthier workforce is a vital component for continuing competitive growth.

Reducing tobacco use among workers generates financial returns from reduced health care costs, increased on-the-job productivity, reduced life and health insurance costs, and reduced absenteeism.

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