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For Release: Feb.22, 2011 – Pamela Williams, Office of Communications – 405/271-5601

Business Leaders Stand Up for Local Rights and a Healthier State

At a news conference held today at the State Capitol, representatives from health and business organizations joined House Speaker Kris Steele in support of HB 2135, which would restore rights to local communities regarding tobacco use prevention ordinances.

As authored by Steele, HB 2135 would repeal special provisions in current state tobacco laws that prohibit cities and towns from exercising their local right to adopt tobacco prevention ordinances. It would return that power to locally elected officials to determine the most appropriate measures to address reducing tobacco use in their communities. Oklahoma is one of only two states in the nation that prohibits communities from adopting any ordinance on tobacco that is stronger than state law.   

“As we move to implement changes necessary to improve the health outcomes of Oklahomans, we strongly believe Oklahoma’s communities should have the same right to reduce tobacco use as most other communities in America,” said State Health Commissioner Dr. Terry Cline.

Cline and Rep. Steele joined with Matt Robison, Vice President of Small Business and Workforce Development from The State Chamber of Oklahoma, and Wes Stucky, President and CEO of the Ardmore Chamber of Commerce, to affirm that passage of HB 2135 would be pro-business. All agreed that HB 2135 would allow Oklahoma’s cities and towns the opportunity to pass ordinances that would improve the health of their community’s workforce and positively influence continued economic growth for the state.

“Employers reap the benefits from reduced tobacco use among their workers through reduced health and life insurance costs, increased on-the-job productivity, and reduced employee absenteeism,” said Cline. “Simply put, improving the physical health of employees improves the fiscal health of employers.”

Other organizations attending the news conference in support of HB 2135 included the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, the American Lung Association, The Alliance for Tobacco or Health, and the Oklahoma Turning Point Council.

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