Smokefree Policies: How does Oklahoma stack up?
While neighboring states have moved forward with smokefree policies, Oklahoma is lagging behind. Here are five policies Oklahoma could consider.
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Comprehensive Smokefree Policies
Exposure to secondhand smoke continues to be a serious health problem in Oklahoma. One significant reason is that Oklahoma isn’t 100% smokefree.
Comprehensive smokefree policies prohibit smoking in worksites, restaurants, clubs and bars. These places are major sources of dangerous levels of secondhand smoke exposure for nonsmokers.
According to a 2006 report from the U.S. Surgeon General, eliminating smoking in indoor spaces is the only way to fully protect nonsmokers from exposure to secondhand smoke. Ventilation systems aren’t enough.
So far, more than half of states have comprehensive smokefree policies on the books, and they’re already seeing the benefits. Studies have shown that smokefree laws help improve the health of workers and the general population. In Arizona after the implementation of a statewide smokefree policy in 2011, improvements in health outcomes, such as reductions in hospital admissions for heart attacks, began to be realized shortly after the laws took effect. If Oklahoma does the same, our health issues and death rate will decrease.
What can you do about it? More than you think. Click here to show your support and sign up for email updates.
Oklahoma is one of very few states with “preemption” statutes prohibiting communities from enacting their own smokefree policies.
How does that work?
Preemption prevents communities from making local decisions regarding smokefree policies. Why does this exist? Because Big Tobacco helped write Oklahoma’s legislation. Big Tobacco isn’t able to monitor the actions of every city council, so they changed the law in their favor. They understand that they can’t compete with grassroots campaigns, so they made sure they didn’t have to. The good news is that states can still fight back.
Since 2004, seven states have maintained local control by enacting clauses that allow communities to enact policies to prevent citizens from using tobacco. How do we become the eighth state?
Find out how you can help change Oklahoma’s policies by clicking here.
Another way to reduce smoking is to raise the minimum age of purchase to 21.
While adolescent smoking rates are on the decline in Oklahoma, the numbers are still scary. Kids that start smoking before they turn 18 are on the road to become lifelong smokers with a shorter life expectancy.
Meanwhile, use of alternative tobacco products such as e-cigarettes, vapor devices, hookahs and small cigars are on the rise among youth. In fact, use of these products increased over 300% from 2013-2015.
So far, 266 cities and counties in 18 states have implemented T21 laws. Five states have implemented it statewide, and 13 other states have introduced legislation.
Do you support a policy that could reduce smoking and protect our kids? Show your support by clicking here.
Many surrounding states have made it illegal to smoke in cars while children are present. Here’s why Oklahoma should, too.
“Evidence suggests that vehicles can also be a significant source of secondhand smoke exposure for children.” — US Surgeon General’s Report, 2006
Smoking in cars generates highly concentrated levels of secondhand smoke. In fact, a Stanford research study showed that smoking just half of a cigarette in a car resulted in pollutant levels 10x the hazardous limit set by the EPA. Even with the windows cracked or rolled down, toxin and carbon monoxide levels are still dangerously high.
Exposure to these levels of secondhand smoke leaves infants and children at great risk for serious health issues such as lower respiratory illness, ear infections, asthma, SIDS and cancer. It also makes kids more likely to experiment with smoking.
Smokefree Clubs & Bars
Right now, Oklahoma tobacco policies do not prohibit smoking in clubs and bars. In fact, we’re one of a handful of states that permits it.
Removing smoking from clubs and bars is designed to help protect both employees and patrons from the harms of secondhand smoke.
Secondhand smoke contains toxic chemicals, including 70 that cause cancer. At clubs and bars, these contaminants accumulate in confined spaces, making it even more of a toxic environment.
Until smokefree policies are passed, health-conscious Oklahomans like you can support bars and clubs that voluntarily eliminate smoking. It sends a clear message to other establishments that going smokefree is good for business. It also provides a temptation-free environment for anyone trying to quit smoking.
To find smokefree clubs and bars in your area, click here.
Together, we can help make Oklahoma a healthier place to live, work, learn and play. Take action to make our great state tobacco free.