Oklahomans may soon get to vote on stricter tobacco regulations statewide.
Governor Mary Fallin announced Tuesday she would lead an initiative petition drive on the issue of secondhand smoke at an event hosted by the American Cancer Society.
"Improving health and wellness in Oklahoma is a priority for me," said Fallin. "Any plan that seeks to improve health outcomes will have to address tobacco. Smoking is the number one cause of preventable death in Oklahoma, killing 6,000 men and women each year. Hundreds of these people aren't even smokers, and have instead fallen ill as a result of secondhand smoke.
"It's time to let voters decide whether or not they want clean air in public places like bars and restaurants. I believe the answer will be ‘yes.'"
The Governor also announced the creation of a new website, DontSmokeOnMe.com, where people can more information about the initiative petition, as it is finalized.
A doctor at OU Health Sciences Center says even thirdhand smoke can be harmful.
"If you even walk into an elevator after someone had been in there who's a smoker and you can still smell it. That's thirdhand smoke," said Dr. Ted Wagener. "It's just trapped in their clothes and it gives off gases into the room."
Thirdhand smoke is a relatively new concept and research still needs to be done.
Doctors at the Mayo Clinic say thirdhand smoke can react with common indoor pollutants to create a toxic mix, posing a danger to nonsmokers, especially children.
The American Cancer Society says Tobacco smoke contains more than 7,000 chemical compounds. More than 250 of these chemicals are known to be harmful, and at least 69 are known to cause cancer.
Researchers say secondhand smoke has been linked to lung cancer. There is also some evidence suggesting it may be linked with childhood leukemia and cancers of the larynx (voice box), pharynx (throat), brain, bladder, rectum, stomach, and breast.