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FOR RELEASE: January 26, 2006
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
405/271-5601


Advisory Committee Encourages ALL Restaurants Go Entirely Smokefree

The Oklahoma Tobacco Use Prevention and Cessation Advisory Committee passed a resolution this week to encourage all restaurants to be entirely smokefree, as the March 1 deadline for compliance with secondhand smoke laws draws closer.

The resolution says the Oklahoma State Board of Health has declared tobacco use as our State’s number one health problem with the adverse effects of tobacco smoke causing damage to the health of nonsmokers as well as smokers, through exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke.

“Providing smoking rooms in which food and beverage is served will cause some restaurant employees to continue to be exposed to concentrated secondhand smoke for long periods of time at the worksite. This significant health risk could be avoided if all restaurants, would go entirely smoke free,” said Dr. Mike Crutcher, Commissioner of Health and chairperson of the Advisory Committee.

The resolution was presented by Dr. Janet Spradlin, the American Heart Association representative on the Advisory Committee. “By restaurants and other indoor public places and workplaces throughout Oklahoma becoming totally smokefree, rather than building expensive smoking rooms, the risk for heart disease and stroke in our state will be reduced,” Spradlin explained.
“Being entirely smokefree can be good both economically and from a health standpoint,” added Frosty Peak, a business representative on the Advisory Committee. “Most smokers want to quit smoking anyway. By going totally smokefree, business tends to increase by bringing in new customers who avoid restaurants that allow smoking.”

The State of Oklahoma adopted laws two years ago to protect the public and workers from secondhand smoke exposure inside most public places and indoor workplaces. Those laws allowed each restaurant until March 1, 2006, to decide whether it will be totally smokefree or limit smoking to a smoking room that is fully enclosed and specially ventilated to assure that smoke cannot escape to nonsmoking areas.

Health officials say that exposure to secondhand smoke causes adverse health effects in all Oklahomans and that even very brief exposures can be harmful. The groups most susceptible to serious health effects include the young, the elderly, and those with respiratory disease, heart disease, or elevated risk of heart disease. Secondhand smoke contains at least 250 chemicals that are known to be toxic or carcinogenic.

The 20-member Advisory Committee was created by the State Legislature in 2001 to adopt and periodically review progress towards meeting the objectives of the State Plan for Tobacco Use Prevention and Cessation. Members include representatives of the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, Oklahoma State Medical Association, Oklahoma Osteopathic Association, Oklahoma Psychological Association, Oklahoma Dental Association, Oklahoma Nurses Association and other organizations.

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