Local control giving communities the authority to prohibit smoking in public parks and municipal buildings was signed into law last week by Gov. Mary Fallin.
Senate Bill 501 gives cities and towns legal authority to ban smoking on any property they own or operate, including municipal parks and sports complexes.
Some local governments had already enacted smoking bans. However, Attorney General Scott Pruitt ruled in February that was a violation of state law limiting local government control over the use of tobacco. The City of Edmond passed an ordinance in 2009 prohibiting smoking on all city park playgrounds.
“As far as what we did in the past, it sounds like our legislation is going to catch up to us,” said Charles Lamb, mayor. SB 501 will go into effect beginning Nov. 1.
The City of Edmond has been taking a “wait and see approach” with the state discussion since it already has an ordinance prohibiting smoking on city property, said Larry Stevens, city manager.
“It was our opinion that cities already had this authority, but we certainly did not intend to take a position contrary to state law,” Stevens said. “This clarifies the situation for us.”
Fallin issued an executive order in 2012 prohibiting the use of all tobacco products in state-owned or leased facilities, land and vehicles. Executive orders expire unless the next governor approves them within the first 90 days of taking office. SB501 makes the smoking ban permanent on state property.
“This is a victory for public health,” said state Sen. Frank Simpson, R-Springer; who authored the bill with state Rep. Pat Ownbey, R-Ardmore. “Parents and grandparents should be able to take their children to the park or to a Little League game without having to worry about second-hand smoke.”
Smoking kills more than 6,000 Oklahomans each year, according to the Oklahoma State Department of Health. More than 700 people die each year from second-hand smoke in the state.
Breathing secondhand smoke can increase the risk of heart problems by 25 percent to 30 percent, according to the American Cancer Society.
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