Oklahoma State Senator pushes for stricter local smoking restrictions

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DURANT, OK -- Oklahoma State Senator Frank Simpson is pushing a bill that would allow cities to enforce stricter smoking laws than what the state currently has on the books.

Senator Simpson says Oklahoma and Tennessee are the only two states that limit cities from enacting harsher smoking laws than what the state allows. Senator Simpson says he is for local control and hopes if his bill passes communities will take advantage of it

Right now, smoking is prohibited in Oklahoma's indoor workplaces unless a separate ventilation system is installed. However, smoking is allowed in places like bars, bingo halls and tobacco stores.

State Senator Frank Simpson is an author on the bill that would give cities the option to suspend smoking inside and around public buildings completely.

Some people agree with more local control.

"Who better knows their constituents than the cities. Let the people of that city help decide whether you can smoke in a bar or any kind of public venue," Guy Llewellyn said.

Senator Simpson says if the bill passes he believes many cities would enact stricter smoking rules.

"Smoking is one of our biggest health problems in the state of Oklahoma. Smoking is estimated to cost each tax payer about $5,000 dollars a year just to take care of the health issues associated with smoking," Senator Simpson said.

The General Manager of Sports City in Durant says if the city were to ban smoking inside restaurants it would be an inconvenience, but he does not believe it would hurt business as long as everyone is on the same playing field.

"I think the bigger issue is if the casino, the Choctaw Nation being their own governing body, that they may be exempt from this and that may hurt," GM Jon McGreevy

Senator Simpson says this bill would not affect the tribes.

He says the bill's purpose is not to take smoking rights away, but to give people a chance to think about what they are doing.

"I myself personally, it affects my life. I lost my mother to lung cancer which contributed to smoking," Senator Simpson said.

Senator Simpson says if the bill passes cities can not make laws less lenient than the states. He says tomorrow he will be meeting with the American Cancer Society to talk about the bill, which he says they support.

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