Tobacco Laws in Oklahoma
With simple changes to Oklahoma’s tobacco laws, thousands of lives could be saved. Here’s an overview of Oklahoma’s existing laws along with solutions to reduce tobacco use.
Currently, there is no statewide smoking ban in Oklahoma. The law prohibits indoor smoking at places open to the public. Several types of businesses are exempt from this rule, including bars, clubs, bingo halls, and retail tobacco stores — as well as restaurants and workplaces that meet certain ventilation requirements.
There’s no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke. Studies have shown that private-sector worksites, restaurants and bars are a major source of secondhand smoke exposure for nonsmoking employees and the public. As a result, the Surgeon General has concluded the only way to protect nonsmokers from secondhand smoke is to prohibit smoking in all indoor areas.
Some worry that smokefree laws would harm local communities and businesses. However, numerous scientific and economic analyses show that these laws do not harm bottom lines, and in some cases, they improve sales and revenues.
In 2003, the Oklahoma state legislature enacted a “preemption” law making it impossible for local communities to implement tobacco restrictions stronger than state law. If a community wants to ban smoking at local bars and restaurants, it is powerless to do so. Historically, the tobacco industry has lobbied for preemption laws to prevent local policies restricting tobacco use. In fact, the Tobacco Control Legal Consortium has called preemption the “biggest challenge to tobacco control.”
With support, effort and action, communities can work to repeal the preemption law, restore local control and move one step closer to a smokefree Oklahoma.
Cigarette Price Increases
When cigarette prices rise, tens of thousands of people quit smoking — and countless children never start. Research shows that tobacco tax increases are one of the most effective ways to reduce tobacco use, especially among kids. Furthermore, increasing cigarette prices eliminates millions in healthcare costs and lost productivity.