, Muskogee, OK

December 12, 2012

Smoking bill deserves full airing

— A push by the Oklahoma State Department of Health to allow decisions on anti-smoking ordinances to be made at the local level is the right move.

Department of Health officials say they will push a measure during the next legislative session that would allow cities and towns to have more restrictive smoking bans.

State law prohibits local anti-smoking ordinances that are more restrictive than state law.

The measure, which passed the House during the most recent legislative session, died in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.

The bill, according to state health officials, would have allowed decisions to be made community by community.

Each Oklahoma community deserves to make the decision instead of having it be restricted by state law.

Issues worth debating:

• Smoking bans restrict the rights of smokers.

• Bans protect the rights of non-smokers.

• Smokers’ rights end where non-smokers’ rights begin.

• Non-smokers should be able to decide whether entering a private building that allows smoking is worth their business.

• Non-smokers should not have to endure unwanted smoke.

Each of those opinions should be discussed and acted upon locally.

The bill would allow communities to decide smoking issues.

If the 25 percent of Oklahomans who are smokers are to co-exist with non-smokers, decisions on bans should come after hearing from both sides at the local level.

The measure deserves a full vote of the state Legislature.