Law Could Ban Smoking In Oklahoma Businesses

Sunday, February 15th 2009, 9:36 pm
By: News On 6

By Charles Bassett, NEWS 9 for News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Oklahoma lawmakers are pushing for smoke-free laws in businesses, but smokers and some businesses are pushing back.

A smoke room at Cattlemen's restaurant is used to protect non-smoking customers. State law requires them.

Now, lawmakers are trying to do away with the rooms in restaurants statewide. Long-time smoker Ricky Hodges is not happy.

"It's never enough for the people who want to take your rights away. Thomas Jefferson said most bad government comes from too much government," Hodges said.

Hodges has smoked for the past 36 years. He said he was okay with being relegated to the smoking rooms, but trying to eliminate them is going too far.

"Until smokers stand up and say ‘we're tired of it and we're not going to take it anymore,' they're going to run us clean into the ground, treat us like second class citizens like they already do, and we're tired of it," Hodges said.

But in a study recently released by Smoke Free Oklahoma, 59% of Oklahomans said they would support a law banning smoking and smoking sections in public places, and 37% said they would oppose such a law.

State Senator David Myers introduced a bill that would do away with the smoking rooms.

"If we want to improve the state of Oklahoma's health, if we want to reduce health costs, then we need to get behind going smoke-free all across Oklahoma," Senator Myers said.

Under the bill, restaurants would have to be completely smoke-free by September 1, 2010, but exceptions would include cigar businesses and VFWs.

"It's not about taking business away. It's about improving the health of the individuals," Senator Myers said.

But Hodges believes that's exactly what will happen.

"These restaurants need to think about that and get out and fight for their rights. If they've got a sealed room where it doesn't bother anybody, to keep those rights," Hodges said.