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Banning indoor smoking in Oklahoma

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A plan in Oklahoma to clear the air. When you breathe-in someone else's cigarette smoke, how much is your health really in jeopardy? The Oklahoma State Department of Health says secondhand smoke can be deadly, and it’s ready to take action.

News on Six reporter Tami Marler says health experts say breathing in someone else's cigarette smoke is more harmful than smoking yourself. Some businesses and smokers say it should be an individual choice. “As a non-smoker, I don't enjoy being around it but I'm used to it, because I work in a bar." Cherish Carden manages Steamroller Blues, once voted Tulsa's Best place to smoke a nice cigar. She says a statewide smoking ban would affect business. "Well it would definitely affect our happy hour. Because people come here after work to enjoy, relax, have a drink, and usually when people drink, that's when they like to smoke."

People also come to the Steamroller for award-winning barbeque, some smoke, some don't. Those are the ones the Board of Health wants to protect. Experts estimate tobacco kills one non-smoker for every eight smokers. David Barrera, smoker: "Honestly I think most people try to block it out and turn a deaf ear to it just so that they don't have to deal with the realization of what it is doing to everyone else. And I probably fall into that category."

David Barrera chooses to smoke, even though he knows the dangers to his health. "Unfortunately yes, and I know what it's probably going to do to my children seeing me do it, and that's the hardest part." Hard, when Barrera realizes the message he's sending, but he wasn't aware of the actual physical dangers to his children, like increased risk of bronchitis, pneumonia, asthma, ear infections, and lung cancer.

About 75% of a cigarette's nicotine goes - unfiltered - into the air, not into the smoker. And experts say children are at greatest risk. "It's just the way America has been forever, and change comes with some resistance, so."

David Barrera says he understands why the board of health is considering a ban on public smoking, and he would follow the rules. Other smokers tell us it's a violation of their rights.

The Oklahoma State Board of Health will vote on a proposal Thursday to prohibit smoking in most indoor public places.

That ban would also require approval by Governor Frank Keating.
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