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FOR RELEASE: June 28, 2002
CONTACT: Pamela Williams

30-Day Implementation Period for Smoking Rules Starts July 1 - Toll-Free Information Line & Free Decals Available

Health officials announced today that a 30-day implementation period for the new smoking rule will be provided to help ensure a reasonable education process towards reaching full compliance. Public places and workplaces affected by the rule are still encouraged to comply on July 1.

A toll-free information number and free decals are available to assist the public with implementation. "Our staff will be available immediately to help public places and workplaces come into full compliance during this 30-day implementation period," said Rocky McElvany, chief of the Consumer Protection Service at the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH).

A toll-free number, 1-866-ONLY AIR (1-866-665-9247) has been established and is operational to handle questions or to request information to be sent by mail. The toll-free line is automated with a recorded message, but callers may leave a telephone number to receive a personal call back. The toll-free number may also be used to order free "Breathe Easy" decals. The Breathe Easy decals, for display at entrances to places that are smoke-free or "effectively smoke-free" as described in the rule, are also available through county health departments.

Voluntary compliance and public education will be the first course of action taken by OSDH health officials. "Those establishments that have not yet determined how they will comply with the rules may want to consider going completely smoke-free. This is the simplest way to comply with the rule while also providing the greatest level of protection for both workers and the public," said McElvany. "The public is also encouraged to help promote compliance in all public places and workplaces affected by the rule."

"Voluntary compliance will be sought whenever possible and good-faith efforts to comply will be recognized and appreciated. After the 30 day implementation period, multiple, continued violations could result in fines. License suspensions would only be used as a last resort," said McElvany.

A complete copy of the rule or general information on the health effects of secondhand smoke exposure can be obtained on the internet at www.health.state.ok.us.


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