The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

February 21, 2013

Gov. Mary Fallin pushing for a statewide smoking ban that gives cities more control


Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — We agree with Gov. Mary Fallin.

Defeat in a Senate committee of a bill that would have allowed cities and towns to enact stricter smoking bans than exist in state law is only a temporary setback.

The governor, who supported the legislation, now will push for a statewide vote in 2014 on a smoking ban designed to reduce second-hand smoke and promote a healthier state.

No language for the initiative petition has been set yet, but it could range from giving cities more authority to put bans in place to a statewide ban on smoking in public places.

Anyone who has been touched by the evils of smoking or second-hand smoke can understand why this legislation is important.

The toll smoking takes is a terrible one, in lives and in money needed to treat people suffering from diseases caused by smoking.

Under current Oklahoma law, smoking is not allowed in most indoor public places, but some exceptions include private offices, bars and restaurants with separately ventilated smoking rooms.

However, cities and towns are prohibited from enacting stricter smoking bans than those already in state law.

And, according to an attorney general’s opinion released earlier this month, cities cannot ban smoking even in city owned outdoor parks and recreational areas.

The governor’s plan would allow for more local control.

It would give residents more say in what happens in their own communities, and who better to make those decision than the people who live in a community?

To get the question on the ballot, supporters have 90 days from the day a petition is filed to gather signatures from nearly 83,000 voters, or 8 percent of the number of votes cast for governor in the last gubernatorial election, according to the secretary of state’s office.

We hope the petition drive is successful and people will have the right to determine for themselves how they want their communities to be.