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Fill-in-Blank News Release for County Health Departments

For Release: (Date)
Contact: (Name)
Administrative Director
__________ County Health Department
(Phone Number)

New Secondhand Smoke Laws Now In Effect

The __________ County Health Department reminds area citizens that new secondhand smoke laws are now in effect that prohibit smoking in most public places and workplaces.

“These laws are designed to improve the health of all Oklahomans by reducing exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke,” said __________ County Health Department Administrative Director __________.

The new laws prohibit smoking in indoor places used by or open to the public, indoor workplaces, and public transportation. Locations exempt from the new laws include stand-alone bars and taverns, retail tobacco stores, 25 percent of guest rooms at a hotel or lodging establishment, licensed charitable bingo games, some small workplaces, and veterans’ organizations (unless holding a public event).

Although restaurants do not have to comply with the new laws until March 1, 2006, __________ said they are being urged to go smoke free now to protect their employees and customers from the serious health hazards of secondhand tobacco smoke.

Employers who have questions or need informational materials on the new laws can call the __________ County Health Department or this toll-free number to request assistance: 1-866-ONLY AIR (1-866-665-9247). The toll-free line is automated with a recorded message, but callers may leave a telephone number to receive a personal call back. The __________ County Health Department also has free “Breathe Easy” decals for smoke-free workplaces and public places to post at their entrances to meet the signage requirements of the new laws.

In addition, free cessation assistance is now available for those Oklahomans who want to quit smoking by calling this toll-free statewide helpline: 1-866-PITCH EM. Callers can consult with trained professional counselors on methods they can use to try to quit their tobacco habit. This helpline is the first program to be funded by the Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust Fund.

Regarding compliance with the new laws, public education will be the first course of action recommended by county and state health officials. "The public is encouraged to help promote compliance in all public places and workplaces affected by the new law,” said __________.

Possible violations of the law can be reported to the __________ county health department at (phone number). Callers will be asked to provide an address for the location where the possible violation was observed. Educational information about the new law will be mailed to the location.

For more information on Oklahoma’s new smoke-free laws, as well as summary fact sheets and general information on the effects of secondhand tobacco smoke, visit this Web site: www.breatheeasyok.com or call the __________ County Health Department at (phone number).

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