Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Good, the Bad, and the Good again

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Letter to the Editor: Get out of the way

By Margaret Aycock, Tulsa

When asked about whether Senate Bill 6 has a chance to be heard in his committee, Sen. Brian Crain, R-Tulsa, said, "...rather than doing this a little bit at a time.... let's just do this all at once... whether or not we are going to ban tobacco smoking in Oklahoma." He said he preferred to use tobacco settlement money to continue to educate the people on dangers of smoking and second-hand smoke.

We all see how well that has worked. We have been fighting tradition with education and those of us on the sidelines, sitting in second-hand smoke, are still waiting for that education to kick in.

It seems as though legislators have been dancing around this issue for years. So while we are waiting for them to "do it all at once," why not let the bill be heard and get out of the way of small governments (cities and towns) that want to actually do something to protect the health of their citizens and keep their public places free of cigarette butt litter?

Editor's note: Aycock is a member of Musicians and Music Lovers for Smoke Free Listening, 

Big Tobacco wins again in Oklahoma
By World's Editorials Writers

A state Senate panel, to no one's surprise, has killed a bill that would have given cities and towns in Oklahoma the right to pass tobacco-control measures that are more stringent than state laws.

We say it's no surprise because the pro-tobacco forces in the state, notably tobacco lobbyists and PACs, have gotten their way in the Legislature for decades, and there was no reason to believe that would change this session, given the amount of money they've been sprinkling around the Capitol over the past year.

What was a little surprising was the ludicrous rationale put forth by those who are cozy with the tobacco industry.

"This is not about local control," said Sen. Rob Johnson, R-Yukon. "It is about infringing on business people's rights."

It was and is about local control, pure and simple. If local city councils felt adopting stronger regulations would be bad for business, then they certainly wouldn't be forced to take such action. The measure would simply have given them that option - but six lawmakers decided local leaders shouldn't have that option.

If any of them had bothered to consider the mountain of research on second-hand smoke and the economic benefits of stricter regulations, they might have had a different view about local control. But of course, they aren't interested in what the research and polls show.

Here's what they might have found persuasive, if they were open to such material, from research and polling results provided by Smoke Free Oklahoma:

  • 68 percent of voters believe the rights of customers and employees to breathe clean air is more important than the rights of smokers to smoke and owners to allow smoking.
  • 59 percent of Oklahomans support a smoke-free environment for Oklahoma workers and families.
  • 18 percent of those surveyed say they would go out more often if restaurants and bars were smoke-free.
  • A poll of restaurateurs done last year found four times as many of the respondents believed they would gain business as believed they would lose business if their city went completely smoke-free.
  • 68 percent of restaurant owners supported allowing Oklahoma cities to go entirely smoke-free once they learned how it enhances business.
  • Only 1 percent of those surveyed said restrictive smoking laws were their top concern.
So who wins, thanks to those six lawmakers who killed local control? Big Tobacco and a tiny fraction of Oklahoma business operators. The losers? The vast majority of Oklahomans who believe health concerns should rule.

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Oklahoma Gov. Fallin to lead smoking crackdown petition
The "Grim Reaper" walks in the rotunda of the state Capitol in Oklahoma City on Tuesday. The "Reaper" attended Gov. Mary Fallin's announcement for plans to put to a vote of the people proposed tobacco regulations aimed at reducing second-hand smoke. STEVE GOOCH/The Oklahoman
The "Grim Reaper" walks in the rotunda of the state Capitol in Oklahoma City on Tuesday. The "Reaper" attended Gov. Mary Fallin's announcement for plans to put to a vote of the people proposed tobacco regulations aimed at reducing second-hand smoke. STEVE GOOCH/The Oklahoman
By BARBARA HOBEROCK World Capitol Bureau

OKLAHOMA CITY - Gov. Mary Fallin on Tuesday said she will lead an initiative petition drive to let voters decide to crack down on smoking in public places.

The wording of the language is still being worked out, but supporters are hopeful it will be on the ballot in 2014.

It's personal
Gov. Mary Fallin: She said both of her parents began smoking at a young age. Her father died before she got married or ran for office; her mother lived longer but had medical issues.
It could let local cities and towns pass ordinances stricter than state law regulating tobacco. Some have proposed an outright ban of smoking in public places, Fallin said.

It has not been determined how the petition would be circulated nor its cost.

The petition would require 82,782 signatures if it called for a change in the law and 155,216 signatures if it called for a change in the state Constitution, for it to be put on the ballot, said Fallin spokesman Alex Weintz.

The action comes a day after a Senate panel voted down Senate Bill 36, which would have let cities and towns pass ordinances stricter than state law governing tobacco use.

Critics said the measure could create a geographic quilt of areas with varying rules on smoking, giving some businesses an advantage over others.

Leading the charge against the measure was Sen. Rob Johnson, R-Yukon, who said the bill was anything but local control.

Years ago, lawmakers passed a measure limiting smoking in public places, but allowed restaurants to build separately ventilated smoking rooms.

Critics of Senate Bill 36 said the measure was unfair to restaurant owners who made the investment, but could have to shut them down should cities pass ordinances requiring it.

The measure was originally assigned to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.

Sen. Brian Crain, R-Tulsa, said he would not hear the measure.

It was then reassigned to the General Government Committee, where it was voted down.

Fallin, who called for local control in her State of the State address earlier this month, said she was disappointed in Monday's action.

"Now, the tobacco interests may have won a battle yesterday, but they didn't win the war," Fallin said.

Oklahoma ranks fourth highest in the nation for smoking, she said.

Some 6,000 Oklahomans die each year from smoking-related illnesses, she said.

"Now is the time to take this issue to the people of Oklahoma," Fallin said. "We know how a majority of the people of Oklahoma feel about this issue."

Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett said he was surprised by the Senate panel's action.

The reaction has been amazing, he said.

"I think today there is a broad response of anger," Cornett said.

Johnson said he would be more supportive of an outright ban than letting cities and towns individually decide because it would create a level playing field.

Fallin said the issue was personal for her.

Both of her parents began smoking at a young age. Her father died before she got married and before she ran for office.

"My mother became very ill at the age of 73 with heart disease, had three heart surgeries," Fallin said.

"She later had all kinds of other issues from several strokes. She became bedridden. She had a feeding tube and diapers, and I was her caregiver for five years during her illness. Many of her issues were related to her lifestyle choices that she had made."

Ponca City Mayor Homer Nicholson, president of the Oklahoma Municipal League, said he hopes all Oklahomans will get on board.

Oklahoma is one of two states where state law prohibits cities and towns from enacting smoking ordinances more stringent than state law, Nicholson said.

Original Print Headline: Fallin to lead anti-smoking push

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Sen Crain, get out of our way

Cities cannot mandate smoke-free parks, Oklahoma attorney general opinion rules

Because of restrictions in Oklahoma’s state law, cities cannot pass ordinances banning smoking in public parks, according to an Oklahoma attorney general opinion released last week.

BY JACLYN COSGROVE | Published: February 12, 2013    Comment on this article Leave a comment
Drive to a local city park in Oklahoma, and you might see a sign letting you know you’re banned from smoking in that park.
These signs are apparently irrelevant, as are the ordinances they help enforce.

An Oklahoma attorney general opinion released Feb. 5 ruled that cities cannot ban smoking in outdoor areas that they own or operate.
The ruling was based on the fact that Oklahoma’s state law bans cities from passing smoking laws that are stricter than state law.
Edmond is one of the many cities across Oklahoma that have passed an ordinance related to smoking in public places. In 2009, the city of Edmond passed an ordinance related to smoking in city parks and playgrounds, Edmond city attorney Steve Murdock said.
“I’m aware of the attorney general’s opinion that came out last week, and we’re reviewing that as it relates to our particulars ordinance,” Murdock said.
But there’s a growing movement to change the state law restricting cities from passing smoke-free ordinances.
Terry Cline, state health commissioner, said Monday that Senate Bill 36 is the single-most important piece of health-related legislation that the Legislature will see in his time as commissioner.
The bill would change state law and allow cities to pass their own smoke-free ordinances.
“This bill has the potential to literally save thousands and thousands of lives,” Cline said. “In the state of Oklahoma, we lose 6,000 lives plus every single year to tobacco-related illnesses — 6,000 Oklahomans we lose to the No. 1 preventable cause of death, which is tobacco use.”
Oklahoma ranks No. 47 in the nation in the prevalence of smoking. About 26 percent of adults in Oklahoma smoke. Meanwhile, the state also sees high rates of heart disease and stroke, which people who smoke are more likely to suffer from.

Bill is in committee

Public health officials say Oklahoma’s current law is one of the only laws in the nation that bans cities from passing stricter smoking ordinances.
This effort marks the fourth time that state health officials have pushed for a bill like Senate Bill 36.
The bill has been sent to Oklahoma Senate Health and Human Services committee, where it could, among other things, pass to the Senate to be heard or not be heard this session.
The committee’s chairman, Sen. Brian Crain, R-Tulsa, said he does not anticipate hearing the bill in the health and human services committee.
“The problem that I have is — this is just an example of creeping legislation, in that incrementally, we are outlawing tobacco, and rather than doing this a little bit at time, I’m saying, ‘Let’s just do this all at once,’” Crain said.
“Let’s either decide whether or not we are going to ban tobacco smoking in Oklahoma.”
There’s a conversation to be had about the fundamental issue of whether Oklahoma will ban tobacco or continue to use the efforts of the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust, the Oklahoma Health Care Authority and the state Health Department to educate people on the dangers of smoking, Crain said.
“I’m a huge fan of education,” Crain said. “I don’t know that I’m a huge fan of forcing a prohibition on people.”
Gov. Mary Fallin said in her State of the State address that she supported the efforts to restore local control to cities and towns regarding tobacco use in public places. Fallin gave the example that many public health leaders point to — Pueblo, Colo.
Fallin said after the city of Pueblo implemented a tobacco ban in local taverns and restaurants, they saw a decrease in the city’s heart attack rate.
“The families living in cities and towns across Oklahoma deserve that same opportunity,” Fallin said in her speech. “If communities want to take action to improve the health of their citizens, they should be able to do it.”

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

HB Passes!

Well it looks like our bill passed but with some stinky changes.  Hopefully the Senate will clean it up a bit and we'll be in business.  I got a nice note from the powers that be at TCC in Tulsa.  Thanks to our Governor, Mary Fallin, We will get to be fully smoke free at the college.  They were moving in that direction already but it will be nice to not have to walk through the smoking section to get into the building.  I am sorry, though for those many people who were scammed by the tobacco industry to begin with who will now be preoccupied and wanting a cigarette w no relief between classes.  Hopefully this action can move to help them quit.

On another Clean Air note, my son, Jesse Aycock ( who is a big part of the reason I started this campaign in the first place) is recording a new album w band members from the Chris Robinson Brotherhood who he is flying in to Tulsa for a couple week recording session.  If you would like to be a part of the project please check out our kickstarter site : kickstarter

Friday, January 27, 2012

HB2267 Restore Local Rights 2012


Allow cities the right to decide to have smoke-free public places to compete for new business and jobs, to reduce health care costs and tax burden, and to protect their citizens from secondhand smoke.
  • HB 2267 does NOT allow cities to regulate where or how tobacco is marketed, sold, or taxed.

  • HB 2267 does NOT make businesses smoke-free, it only lets cities and their citizens discuss what they want for their city.

HB 2267 WILL allow cities the opportunity to compete for new businesses with a healthier workforce.

  • Cities in Oklahoma are competing with cities in other states for new businesses and jobs.
  • Smoking costs Oklahoma businesses over $1.73 Billion each year for health related illness and lost productivity. (Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids -

HB 2267 WILL allow cities to decide if they want to reduce health care costs for Oklahomans.
  • Oklahoma pays $1.16 Billion in support of health care for tobacco related illnesses.  (Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids-
  • Every Oklahoma household pays $553 in state and federal taxes due to smoking related illnesses.  (Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids –
  • Reducing tobacco use among workers:
-       generates financial returns from reduced health care costs;
-       increases on-the-job productivity;
-       reduces life and health insurance costs;
-       creates a healthier workforce which helps Oklahoma compete for business.

HB 2267 WILL allow cities the opportunity to protect their citizens from secondhand smoke.

·          There is no safe level of secondhand smoke.  (Surgeon General’s Report 2006)
·          Ventilation doesn’t work.  [American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE); OU Indoor Air Quality Report; American Cancer Society]

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Hey, those of you who love to listen to music in an always smoke free, intimate environment should check out  Many concerts are held in our own home, larger ones head to the legendary Church Studio, former Tractors and Leon Russel studio.

Smoke free music venues

We have been enjoying several music venues lately that are smoke free.  Fassler Hall,  in downtown Tulsa and the legendary ( and legendary for both music and smoke ) Colony on Harvard.  What a pleasure to be able to listen without burning eyes, smelly clothes and for my husband, NO HEADACHE  !  Thanks for caring about your employees, patrons and musicians!   Kudos!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Recent letter to the editor

Letter to the editor: Clear the air

By Margaret Aycock, Tulsa

Published: 2/28/2010 5:21 AM

Last Modified: 2/28/2010 5:21 AM

The danger from breathing second-hand smoke is such common knowledge that most elementary children are aware of it. Are we not smarter than a fifth-grader?

The Oklahoma Tobacco Research Center recently completed a study that shows the air in our bars and clubs is "extremely hazardous and far exceeds Environmental Protection Agency air quality standards." Must we wait until complaints are called into the EPA and entire businesses are closed before our legislators mandate clean air in all workplaces?

It is troubling to me that the tobacco lobby and restaurant association lobby have more sway with legislators than health organizations that are begging for smoke-free legislation. Legislators tell me that some restaurants and bar owners who spent money to install separate smoking rooms and ventilation feel that it is an unfair burden on them. Are our legislators worried about looking bad? "Oops, we were wrong about those smoking rooms being a good idea."

Smoking must be discontinued in the workplace even though someone invested in ventilation or a new room. Remember, they still get to keep the rooms, and new studies show that ventilation is just not good enough to clear the air of carcinogens.

As far as having a negative impact on business is concerned, the figures prove otherwise in states and countries where similar laws were enacted.

We need legislation that will protect both workers and patrons and we need it now.

Feel free to go to and type in margaret aycock, follow the thread to this letter and post your own comments to the world

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Smoke free on Face Book

Check out and become a member of Musicians for Smoke Free Oklahoma on facebook
You may have to type in smoke free oklahoma to get there as I can't seem to figure out how to cut and paste today. This is a great group and they have the support of the American Heart Association. Join and continue to keep the cause in your legislators' face.

Article in Recent Tulsa World

Smoke hazardous in restaurants, bars

The levels exceed EPA air-quality standards, a study finds.


Published: 2/13/2010 2:27 AM

Last Modified: 2/13/2010 5:27 AM

OKLAHOMA CITY — Tobacco smoke pollution in Oklahoma City-area restaurants and bars is extremely hazardous and far exceeds Environmental Protection Agency air quality standards, according to a report released by the Oklahoma Tobacco Research Center at the OU Cancer Institute.

The center looked at tobacco smoke levels in 67 Oklahoma City-area restaurant smoking rooms and bars and found that even restaurants with smoke ventilators had pollution levels harmful to workers and patrons.

The smoke was measured as particulate pollution, which the EPA ranks as hazardous at levels of 151-250 micrograms per cubic meter of air. The particulate level averaged 380 micrograms in restaurant smoking rooms tested by the center, and it measured 655 micrograms in bars.

Dr. Robert McCaffree, co-director of the tobacco center, said researchers knew secondhand smoke was hazardous but were surprised pollution levels were so high

Read more from this Tulsa World article at

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Letter from Senator Coburn... check out the highlighed part..... Personally as a practicing physician he could vote to protect all people, not just the ones who happen to drop by his office!

May 5, 2009

Mrs. Margee Aycock
1135 N. Denver
Tulsa, Oklahoma 74106-4647

Dear Mrs. Aycock,

Thank you for your email regarding clean energy and smoking in public places. It is good to hear from you.

Like you, I believe we must move towards other forms of American energy such as solar and wind energy as you suggested. I am supportive of efforts to further develop all available renewable resources. However, we must allow the markets to work, so that consumers can pick the source that best matches their needs. I believe we boost energy development and new technological development the most when we reduce taxes for all Americans and eliminate unnecessary regulations that stand in the way of progress. I will continue my efforts towards this end.

Oklahoma is fast becoming a leader in alternative sources of energy. According to the Oklahoma Department of Commerce, our state ranks ninth nationally in total existing wind energy generation and we are about to leapfrog near the front of that ranking. Wind energy is Oklahoma's primary alternative energy source and currently operates 689 wind turbines. Hydro power and the development of agrifuels also hold great potential. There is no reason why we should not be leading the nation in alternative energy production. I am encouraged to hear of developments in solar technology, and am hopeful it will one day become a cost-efficient alternative to traditional energy sources.

I am particularly encouraged by the large scale development of wind power. For it to continue, our state will have to aggressively embark on an expansion new transmission capacity just as you suggested, and I am encouraged that Oklahoma regulators have moved forward with a large transmission project connecting promising wind fields in the panhandle to the interior of our state. Where appropriate, I will continue to push for a streamlining of federal regulations that often slow or kill such development. I will also oppose legislation that places barriers in the way of new transmission development-something Congress is prone to do.

You may be interested to know, the Senate recently passed the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 (H.R. 146). Among other things, this bill will remove over three million acres in the United States from energy development - both traditional and renewable. I adamantly opposed this bill and, in fact, I offered an amendment that would have eliminated all restrictions on the development of renewable energy including geothermal, wind, solar, biomass and related infrastructure. Unfortunately, this amendment failed, because short-sighted members of Congress care more about their political careers than what is in the best interests of the nation. Please know I will continue to fight for a common sense energy policy that will provide for the energy needs of future generations.

With respect to your comments on nuclear energy, you should know I believe rather strongly that nuclear power is one of the safest, cleanest sources of power in the world. Nuclear power is now providing about 20 percent of America's electricity, with no air pollution or "greenhouse gas" emissions. It has been successfully used for decades in America and in France, where nuclear reactors produce 78 percent of all electricity. Unlike France, however, our nuclear waste will be recycled without separating plutonium - ensuring increased nuclear energy production is consistent with the Energy Department program's goal of non-proliferation.

Unfortunately, since the 1970s, more than 35 plants were stopped at various stages of planning and construction because of bureaucratic obstacles. Despite these difficulties, the Energy Policy Act of 2005 included several vehicles for progress including loan guarantees for advanced nuclear reactors and standby support framework for new nuclear power plant construction to protect against regulatory or judicial delays for six reactors. Nevertheless, nuclear power still faces significant obstacles, and I will continue to support efforts to streamline the licensing process.

I would encourage you to contact your state representatives on the topic of nuclear reactors in our state. They may be reached at:

State Senator Judy Eason McIntyre State Representative Jabar Shumate
2300 North Lincoln Boulevard, Room 527B 2300 North Lincoln Boulevard, Room 510
Oklahoma City, OK 73105 Oklahoma City, OK 73105
Phone: (405) 521-5598 Phone: (405) 557-7406
E-mail: E-mail:

Furthermore, as a practicing physician, I agree with you smoking is hazardous to the health of smokers and those around them. As a result, I have a no-smoking policy in my office. I also agree it is important to help young people resist a lifetime addiction that will invariably harm their health and likely shorten their life. I believe that government can assist in achieving this goal by promoting healthy lifestyles and better enforcing current tobacco laws.

Thank you again for contacting me on these topics. I look forward to hearing from you in the future.

Sincerely, A
Tom A. Coburn, M.D.
United States Senator

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Deadly cost of smoking in Oklahoma

Deadly cost of smoking in Oklahoma

Gary Raskob and Ken Lackey: A smoking prevalence of almost one in four Oklahomans is still too high.

Published: 4/23/2009  2:26 AM
Last Modified: 4/23/2009  4:09 AM

New numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show the deadly impact of cigarette smoking in Oklahoma.

When the period of 2000-2004 is compared to 1996-1999, Oklahoma is the only state that failed to see a decrease in smoking-attributable mortality — the deaths caused by smoking. In fact, Oklahoma had an increase of 26.9 deaths per 100,000 people. Women in our state do worse than men, with twice as many smoking-related deaths.

Cigarette smoking causes an estimated 443,000 premature deaths each year in this country, with 6,209 of these deaths in Oklahoma. That's 85,208 years of potential life lost by Oklahomans. The direct health-care and productivity losses caused by cigarette smoking are staggering: $193 billion each year nationwide, and more than $2 billion in Oklahoma.

The tobacco companies continue aggressive efforts to help ensure a steady stream of new smokers. Their marketing spending topped $13 billion in 2005, nearly double their spending of a decade earlier and almost twice the entire budget for the CDC.

Some important strides have been taken in the right direction. The voter-approved state tobacco tax increase that took effect in 2005 has begun to have an impact, with the prevalence of smoking declining from 26.1 percent of Oklahomans in 2004 to 24.7 percent in 2008.

Private business has also shown leadership, with many providing positive incentives for their employees to quit smoking. The business community understands that a healthier workforce
leads to reduced health-care and workers compensation costs and higher worker productivity.

However, a smoking prevalence of almost one in four Oklahomans is still too high — more than double the CDC's Healthy People 2010 goal. It is time for us to pledge to do more!

Federal data for 1985 through 2003 show states with higher expenditures for tobacco-use prevention programs had greater reductions in adult smoking prevalence.

The non-partisan Institute of Medicine (IOM) concluded that substantial and enduring reductions in tobacco use depend on federal and state government steps to increase tobacco excise taxes, enact bans on smoking in public places, and increase health coverage for effective smoking cessation interventions. It called for full implementation of comprehensive tobacco prevention and cessation programs at CDC-recommended funding levels.

Oklahoma should heed the IOM recommendations, which are based on scientific evidence.

Strengthening tobacco use prevention will decrease unnecessary premature loss of life, lower health-care costs, and have a positive impact on business competitiveness for our state.
Gary Raskob, Ph.D., is dean of the College of Public Health, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. Ken Lackey is chairman of the board of NORDAM.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Call to action

Powerful tobacco lobbyists are pressuring the State Senate to support smoking in Oklahoma restaurants and other public places. These special interest lobbyists don't care that exposure to secondhand smoke is a serious health hazard that causes heart attacks, heart disease, lung cancer and many respiratory disorders.

There is a bill on the agenda of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee next Thursday, February 19. The bill will create a smoke-free environment for all restaurants, bars, and indoor workplaces. The members of that committee need to hear from people who believe in smoke-free restaurants, bars and public places.

Call or email the members of the Senate Health and Human Services committee today!


Sen. Tom Adelson Democrat (405)521-5551

Sen. Sean Burrage Democrat (405)521-5555

Sen. Brian Crain Republican (405)521-5620

Sen. Jim Halligan Republican (405)521-5572

Sen. Constance Johnson Democrat (405)521-5531

Sen. Clark Jolley Republican (405)521-5622

Sen. Dan Newberry Republican (405)521-5600

Sen. Jim Wilson Democrat (405)521-5574

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Bill 1036 to Eliminate Smoking Rooms

Sen. David Myers rides again.  Thank you senator for your persistence on this issue.  Although the Restaurant Association does not back this bill, we, who are tired of the laws that protect smokers rather than non smokers wish him well on getting this bill passed.  The bill would faze out the smoking room in restaurants and would be one more step in the right direction towards eliminating smoke in bars across the state.  Please encourage your senators to support bill 1036.