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Man files federal lawsuit over smoking

Updated:
(MUSKOGEE) - A man has filed a $5.5 million federal lawsuit against Cherokee County officials over their refusal to ban smoking in public places.

Oklahoma state law forbids local governments from adopting smoking ordinances more restrictive than state statutes. State law now allows smoking in many public places.

Larry L. Krantwashl of Cookson says in the lawsuit that he is ``forced to live as a social outcast, because I must stay in smoke-free places.''

He also says ``it is nearly impossible to find a restaurant, bingo parlor, bowling alley, fishing dock, dancing floor, lounge, grocery store, barber shop, retail stores'' that are smoke-free.

Krantwashl, a former smoker who suffers from respiratory disease, also says the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 provides for a smoke-free environment. He wants county commissioners ``to take necessary steps to comply with the ADA'' on a countywide basis.

Named in the lawsuit are District Attorney Dianne Barker-Harrold, County Commissioners Maxie R. Thompson, Bobbie G. Botts and Jimmie Gower and Sheriff Delena Goss.

Goss said she and her attorney feel the lawsuit is frivolous.

Last week, the state Board of Health passed rules to prevent smoking in most public places, saying they were acting within their legal rights to protect the public from the health dangers of secondhand smoke.

However, some legislators and Gov. Frank Keating questioned whether the board overstepped its authority. Some legislators said the rules will be killed in the House and Senate before they ever go into effect.

Krantwashl said he suffers from emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and has carried an oxygen tank since 1994 for supplemental breathing.

Krantwashl seeks $1 million from each defendant in compensatory damages and $100,000 from each defendant in punitive damages.
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