Gov.-elect Brad Henry says a proposal to
require a two-thirds vote of the people to pass the state's smoking
ban doesn't make sense.
Earlier in the week, the Oklahoma Restaurant Association
announced a plan to have the Legislature submit the proposal to a
statewide vote at the next opportunity.
Under the plan, the ban would go into effect only if the
proposal receives a two-thirds vote of the people.
"I think it's an unrealistic proposal and they probably realize
that," Henry said.
"I just can't imagine why in the world we would submit any vote
to the people and then require a two-thirds vote for passage. It
makes no sense to me."
The Restaurant Association has been involved in legal battles
with the state Board of Health because the board adopted rules
regulating smoking in restaurants with seating for more than 50
Gov. Frank Keating signed the rules. Henry said he had not read
the rules Keating signed, but said the ban on smoking was more
realistic than a proposal submitted by the Oklahoma Restaurant
The association's proposal calls for a total ban on smoking in
all public places, including private offices.
"I understand the danger of secondhand smoke. It's every bit as
dangerous as firsthand smoke," Henry said. "I do think that we
have an obligation to protect our citizens from those obvious
While Henry has not finished his legislative agenda for next
year, he said the state's budget crisis will take top priority.
"I can tell you that it will be focused on the real difficult
issues that we have and that's the budget crisis this year," he
"That's going to be the main focus of my program -- how we deal
with that budget crisis and how we make some changes to help in the