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FOR RELEASE: June 26, 2002
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
405/271-5601

Health Officials Praise Governor's Action on Public Place Smoking Rules

In a statement of support for the action taken today by Gov. Frank Keating, public health officials applauded the leadership and courage of the governor for signing rules that minimize public exposure to secondhand smoke in the state of Oklahoma.

"In speaking for the Board of Health, I think this is a tremendous achievement for the governor and for our state. For the first time, the non-smoking public will truly breathe clean air in public places. I want to express the board's thanks and gratitude to the governor for his taking a leadership role in addressing this issue," said Board of Health President Dr. Ron Graves.

"Not only are the benefits of this action supported by scientific data, the desire of the public has been clearly demonstrated by polling data. Polls by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the OU Political Sciences Department have demonstrated more than 90 percent of the public desires smoke free public places," said Graves. This is a great step forward in addressing the number one preventable health risk for Oklahomans."

Oklahoma Commissioner of Health Dr. Leslie Beitsch said, "We want to thank the governor for his strong leadership and courage in standing up for the health of Oklahomans. The overriding concern has and always will be to protect the health of all of our state's citizens, including those who suffer from respiratory conditions that put them at risk of acute reaction to secondhand smoke."

The Oklahoma State Board of Health, Oklahoma State Department of Health and the many public health advocates across the state are pleased these important health issues are moving forward. "OSDH will work with everyone impacted by the new rules to ensure as smooth a transition as possible. We will start by working on public education about the new rules and offer every opportunity for voluntary compliance. Our hope is that once the public and businesses see the increased health benefits and reduced worker's compensation issues, that eventually the smaller businesses will voluntarily go smoke free," Beitsch said.

For more information on secondhand smoking issues in Oklahoma go to: http://www.health.state.ok.us/program/tobac/secondhand.htm

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