Oklahoma Gov. Fallin Calls Out Tobacco as State’s Number One Killer

Gov. Mary Fallin said in her State of the State address delivered Feb. 4 that both her parents died due to smoking-related illnesses, as do almost 6,000 Oklahomans each year. She called for restoring local control to cities and towns regarding tobacco use in public places.

Oklahoma is one of 24 states without comprehensive smoke-free laws on the books, according to a new CDC study I blogged about last week. CDC reported that 26.1 percent of adults in Oklahoma reported smoking cigarettes in 2011, behind only the smoking rates in three states (Ky., West Va. and Ark.).

Here is the portion of Gov. Fallin’s speech on tobacco:

“Any plan to improve the health of Oklahomans must address the state’s number one killer: tobacco. The use of tobacco products costs Oklahomans more than $2 billion in health care costs and lost workforce productivity annually. Almost 6,000 Oklahomans die each year due to smoking-related illnesses. That includes both of my parents. My father died from a smoking related illness when he was younger than I am today.

This year I am supporting a proposal to restore local control to cities and towns regarding tobacco use in public places. The implications for health can be enormous.

The city of Pueblo, Colorado serves as a great example. When their citizens were given local control and allowed to implement a tobacco ban in local taverns and restaurants, they saw a dramatic reduction in smoking and smoking related illnesses. In fact, the city’s heart attack rate dropped over 30 percent.

The families living in cities and towns across Oklahoma deserve that same opportunity. If communities want to take action to improve the health of their citizens, they should be able to do it.”