Dr. Terry Cline, Oklahoma’s Commissioner of Health and Secretary of Health and Human Services, has been making the rounds of Oklahoma newspaper editorial boards. He outlines a legislative agenda that gives cities and towns control over tobacco regulation, a stronger graduated driver’s license law to prohibit teens from texting while driving and a health education requirement for public schools.

The tobacco lobby killed a similar local rights bill promoted in 2011 by House Speaker Kris Steele, R-Shawnee. This year’s proposal, House Bill 2267, is being carried by Rep. Doug Cox, R-Grove, whose other job is as a rural Oklahoma physician.

Dr. Cline pulls few punches in delivering the state of the state’s health. Oklahoma ranked 48th of 50 in 2011 overall health rankings by the United Health Foundation. We have improved in a few categories but other states have improved more. Thank goodness for Louisiana and Mississippi, which rank No. 49 and 50 respectively.

Smoking, obesity and sedentary lifestyles get much of the blame for our low number. Those factors also portend future problems. In the past five years, diabetes increased from 8.9 percent to 10.4 percent of adults. Obesity increased from 19.7 percent to 31.3 percent of adults in the past decade.

Two bright spots shared by Dr. Cline: Adult smoking has decreased from 28.7 percent to 23.7 percent. Preventable hospitalizations decreased for Medicare enrollees.

Our infant mortality is higher than the national average and life expectancy is shorter by almost three years. We are 49th in physical activity and 50th in per capita consumption of fruits and vegetables. If the present trends continue, Oklahoma will hold the ranking as the nation’s most obese state by 2018.

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