Legislation giving communities local control over smoking in public parks and municipal facilities has been signed into law. Gov. Mary Fallen signed Senate Bill 501, by Sen. Frank Simpson and Rep. Pat Ownbey, on Monday. The measure also places Fallin’s Executive Order prohibiting the use of all tobacco products in state-owned or leased buildings, land and vehicles into state law.
The legislation gives local governments the authority to ban smoking on any property they own or operate, including municipal parks and sports complexes. Some communities had already enacted such bans; however, the Attorney General ruled that was a violation of state law limiting local government control over the use of tobacco.
“This is a victory for public health,” said Simpson, R-Springer. “Parents and grandparents should be able to take their children to the park or to a little league game without having to worry about second-hand smoke—now cities that want to ban smoking in those facilities have the legal authority to do it.”
According to the Oklahoma State Department of Health, about 6,000 Oklahomans die each year as a result of smoking, and 700 die from second-hand smoke.
“I am not surprised by the support this bill has received,” said Ownbey, R-Ardmore. “I think any time we are giving local communities the ability to set policy, we are supporting community efforts to address problems such as second-hand smoke. The legislation gives cities and towns the opportunity to make their public-owned buildings smoke-free.”
The governor issued an Executive Order in 2012 banning all tobacco from state properties, including vehicles. Executive Orders remain in effect throughout a governor’s tenure, but the next governor must approve it within 90 days or the order expires. By placing it in the statutes, the smoking ban on state property becomes permanent.
SB 501 will go into effect beginning November 1, 2013.