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Groups want tougher tobacco laws

December 17th, 2010 Posted in Tobacco news Buy cheap cigarettes online Tags:

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A local group and a state group are joining forces to change a law so that cities can adopt tobacco ordinances that are tougher than state law.

“During the past year, there has been this new effort to restore the local control,” said Jane Jones, Muskogee Against Tobacco program coordinator. “This is the next step towards improving the health of our communities.”

MAT is joining forces with the Oklahoma Turning Point Council as part of an effort to give municipalities the right to enact anti-tobacco laws that are tougher than existing state laws.

Turning Point is a public-private collaboration designed to improve the health of Oklahomans through public health partnerships throughout the state. They recently issued a challenge to health care professions, businesses, civic and professional groups, and public health to work with state legislators in the upcoming legislative session to restore the rights of Oklahoma communities to adopt effective tobacco prevention measures.

Jones said tobacco companies used their influence in 1987 and 1994 to get legislators to pass pre-emptive laws blocking local action.

If the effort to change the state law is successful, local lawmakers would have a variety of options, she said.

“Local communities might want to pursue local licensing of tobacco retailers, which would mean sales to minors would be more easily enforced,” he said. “They might want to restrict free samples and free coupons, things like that.”

Ward I City Councilman Bob Coburn said he wouldn’t be worried about any loss of local businesses caused by competition with nearby communities with less restrictive tobacco laws.

“I’d think that the health care concerns would override that 10 to one,” he said. “I would like to see tighter controls. The tougher the better, as far as I am concerned.”

Doug Matheny, chief of the Tobacco Use Prevention Service at the Oklahoma State Department of Health, said restoration of local rights is a national trend.

“There have been 10 states in the last five years that have taken similar action,” he said.

Matheny said there is evidence that suggests tobacco companies influenced legislators in 1987 and 1994 because municipalities were cracking down.

“Just prior to us getting pre-emption put in our state law by the tobacco industry, there was activity at the local level that was of concern to them,” he said. “We know that both Edmond and Tulsa had either already passed or were in the process of passing local ordinances on smoking in public places. We have internal documentation about their concern about this local activity. “

Oklahoma and Tennessee are the only states in the nation that prohibit communities from adopting any ordinance on tobacco that is stronger than state law.

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