Tulsa and Oklahoma City are among six cities nationwide singled out in a new report from the CDC for having weak laws protecting the public from exposure to harmful secondhand smoke.
The report, published in this week's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Review, notes that of the 50 most populous U.S. cities, Tulsa and Oklahoma City, failed to completely assure nonsmoking environments inside all workplaces, restaurants and bars.
"This underscores that unlike most states, Oklahoma's statewide smoking law prohibits cities and towns from adopting local clean indoor air ordinances to further regulate smoking inside indoor public places, even if communities would prefer such protection," said State Health Commissioner Dr. Terry Cline. "When the new Oklahoma Legislature convenes less than 90 days from now, a public health priority should be restoration of local rights for Oklahoma's cities and towns to adopt stronger smoking ordinances, just as communities can do in all our neighboring states. Until then, Oklahoma will continue to struggle to improve the health of our residents and the economic health of our state."
The report says more has been learned of the harmful health effects of secondhand smoke exposure, including its impact on heart disease and as a risk factor for cancer and respiratory diseases.
"Oklahoma municipal officials should have the opportunity to establish local policies that work best to protect their respective communities," said Carolyn Stager, executive director of the Oklahoma Municipal League. "Cities should be able to adopt policies that make their communities healthier and more attractive to businesses and economic development."
State health officials say efforts to repeal preemptive clauses in the state's Prevention of Youth Access to Tobacco Act and the Smoking in Public Places and Indoor Workplaces Act has failed in recent Oklahoma legislative sessions. The issue is expected to be considered again next year.