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FOR RELEASE: August 1, 2002
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
405/271-5601

State Health Department Files Action on Tobacco Lawsuit

The Oklahoma State Department of Health today filed a brief with the Oklahoma Supreme Court to petition the court for a Writ of Prohibition. The agency filed this action to prohibit further proceedings from occurring in a Creek County district court on a lawsuit filed by the Oklahoma Restaurant Association that would forbid the state health department from implementing new secondhand smoke rules.

The agency asked the court to transfer the case to Oklahoma County, the official residence for the Oklahoma State Department of Health, the State Board of Health, and Gov. Frank Keating. This is in keeping with well-established law on jurisdiction, which provides that the appropriate venue for actions against public officials should be in their county of residence. The petition states that the Creek County venue is improper and in derogation of its judicial authority.

"We want to resolve these legal issues so that we can move forward with implementing the secondhand smoke rules," said State Health Commissioner Dr. Leslie Beitsch. "Our overriding concern has always been, and continues to be, protecting the health of all Oklahomans."

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