For Immediate Release: March 10, 2003
Senate Approves Restrictions On Public Smoking
Two measures calling for sweeping restrictions on public smoking have cleared the State Senate. After narrowly defeating Senate Bill 566 last week, the measure was brought up for reconsideration Monday morning and passed by a vote of 32 to 15.
Senator Ben Robinson is principal author of SB 566, which would extend a smoking ban to all indoor workplaces, including restaurants. The measure does include some exemptions including stand-alone bars, retail tobacco products and medical facilities conducting smoking research.
"This is important for the health of thousands of Oklahomans who literally don't have any choice but to work in a smoke-filled environment. It will also protect others, especially children, from the dangers of second-hand smoke," explained Senator Robinson, D-Muskogee.
Senator Robinson, who chairs the Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Social Services, said the measure could also have an important impact on the state budget, noting the state spends literally millions of dollars each year on health care costs as a result of smoking diseases.
"That's money that we could be putting back into other vital state programs such as education, public safety and transportation concerns," said Robinson.
The full Senate later approved SJR 21 which is also aimed at reducing smoking in public places. Senate President Pro Tempore Cal Hobson is principal author of the legislation. He praised the Senate's actions on both measures.
"I am extremely pleased that we have taken this important step toward providing a smoke free environment for families who want to enjoy a night out without putting their health at risk and for thousands of employees in Oklahoma who have no choice but go to work everyday in a smoking environment," said Hobson, D-Lexington.
Both measures now move the House of Representatives for further consideration.
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