Edmond lawmaker accuses House leaders of sabotaging smoking bill

Tuesday, February 12th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ House Speaker Larry Adair and Rep. Lloyd Field assigned a bill to prohibit smoking in public places to end any chance of the measure being passed, a state lawmaker said.

Rep. Ray Vaughn, R-Edmond, said in a letter Monday his bill should have been assigned to the House's Health Committee rather than the Commerce, Industry and Labor Committee.

Vaughn said the assignment is ``on its face a statement of a lack of concern for our citizens, especially when the chairman is a smoker and known to favor the tobacco industry.''

Fields, D-McAlester, is chairman of the Commerce, Industry and Labor Committee.

He said the measure would be a ``bind on businesses.'' Field said businesses already have the option of prohibiting smoking, noting that several restaurants in his district already restrict smoking.

Adair, D-Stilwell, said Vaughn's allegations are incorrect.

Adair said another smoking-related bill that would allow municipalities and counties to prohibit smoking within their buildings has been assigned to the County and Municipal Government Committee.

Another bill, Senate Bill 1553, bans smoking in any building where the public was ``invited.'' It extends a current ban on smoking in public buildings or where there are large gatherings.

Adair said Vaughn's bill would ban smoking in every business, including restaurants, bars and golf and country clubs.

``I don't smoke and I don't really like being around smokers,'' he said. ``But if this bill were to pass and be signed into law, then even a business owner couldn't smoke in his or her own place of business.

``So I think the assignment of the bill to Commerce, Industry and Labor was an appropriate one to make.''

The bill lists several areas covered by the ban, including nursing homes, schools, day care centers, homeless shelters, food banks and adoption agencies. Vaughn said his measure would outlaw smoking in small private businesses, at outdoor events and in all restaurants.

The bill would amend a 1975 law that Vaughn said recognized lighted tobacco as not only a public nuisance but a danger to public health. The earlier legislation outlawed smoking in elevators, libraries, indoor movie theaters and a few other public places.