Proposal to Reduce Tobacco Use Sent to Lawmakers

Public policy recommendations are being highlighted in a proposed update of the state plan for tobacco use prevention distributed today to state legislators.
The plan calls for reducing tobacco use rates in Oklahoma to below the national rates by 2012. Achieving this goal would result in 200,000 fewer adult and youth tobacco users in the state.
Originally adopted in 2001 by the Oklahoma Tobacco Use Prevention and Cessation Advisory Committee, the Plan describes the extent of the tobacco problem in Oklahoma and outlines a combination of effective programs and public policies needed. The updated Plan also includes specific objectives and progress achieved to date towards preventing addiction, encouraging cessation, and protecting nonsmokers from exposure to secondhand smoke.
“Though significant progress has been made, tobacco use remains the number one preventable cause of death in Oklahoma, and is still a major contributor to our state’s low health rankings,” said Secretary of Health and Commissioner of Health Dr. Michael Crutcher.
Public policy recommendations called for by the Plan include the following:
· Extend state law to eliminate smoking in all indoor public places and workplaces.
· Return the rights of Oklahoma communities to adopt tobacco-related ordinances stronger than state law, as allowed in all neighboring states.
· Prohibit use of driver’s license scanning data for marketing of tobacco products.
Legislation has recently been filed in both the State Senate and the State House of Representatives on each of these measures. “Legislative support for all of these critical public policies is strongly encouraged,” said Crutcher. “Ongoing leadership by our elected officials is absolutely essential.”
Legislators’ comments on the proposed Plan are solicited until March 1, after which the Advisory Committee is charged by statute with finalizing updates no later than May 1.
Copies of the proposed Plan are available by calling the Tobacco Use Prevention Service of the Oklahoma State Department of Health at (405) 271-3619.

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