Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Tobacco-free bill lights up Senate debate

The plan would allow fines on college campuses.

By BARBARA HOBEROCK World Capitol Bureau
Published: 3/5/2010

OKLAHOMA CITY — Consideration of a bill to enforce tobacco-free polices on college campuses led to a debate Thursday on the Senate floor about personal freedoms, health care and abortion.

Sen. Jim Halligan, R-Stillwater, urged the Senate to pass Senate Bill 1674, which would allow colleges and universities to levy fines of up to $100 for those found in violation of tobacco-free policies.

The measure ultimately was approved by a 29-11 vote and sent on to the House after discussions turned to curtailing personal liberties and casting consistent votes when it came to issues such as abortion regulations.

Sen. Steven Russell, R-Oklahoma City, said SB 1674 curtailed what is currently a legal activity, noting that government continues to nibble away at personal freedoms.

Halligan called tobacco a "scourge on society."

Sen. Randy Brogdon, R-Owasso, said the bill represented the hypocrisy brought to the Senate floor on a regular basis. "This is a bad bill," said Brogdon, who is running for governor. "Let's quit picking around the edges. If you want to ban tobacco, let's get rid of it."

Sen. Johnnie Crutchfield, D-Ardmore, said each generation will have fewer and fewer rights than their elders.

Sen. Andrew Rice, D-Oklahoma City, pointed out that a number of measures regulating abortion, a legal activity, will be heard. Those measures would require women seeking abortions to have ultrasounds and require information about a woman's abortion to be put on a public Web site, Rice said. The measure would not identify the woman.

"Let's be consistent about the invasion of privacy into the lives of Oklahomans," Rice said.

Sen. Tom Adelson, D-Tulsa, said although alcohol is legal, it is illegal to drink and drive. Innocent bystanders have no choice but to breathe secondhand smoke, he said.

"Smoke them if you've got them, but I don't want to breathe it," Adelson said.

Secondhand smoke is dangerous, said Sen. David Myers, R-Ponca City.

"We need to do something about the health of Oklahomans," Myers said, referring to low marks the state gets in several areas regarding health.

Sen. Debbe Leftwich, D-Oklahoma City, said her husband died of lung cancer, but never smoked. Former Sen. Keith Leftwich, D-Oklahoma City, died in 2003. His wife was elected to his seat.

"I am for getting rid of smoking anywhere and everywhere," she said.

Halligan said no one should have the right to say "I want to smoke and you have to inhale it."

"When your rights impact my rights, when your rights impact my life," he said. "That is what secondhand smoke does.

Meanwhile, the House passed legislation that would allow educational institutions to designate their buildings and campuses tobacco-free. House Bill 2748 by Rep. Lee Denney, R-Cushing, also would allow institutions to enforce penalties for violations. It passed 81-11 and now heads to the Senate.



You're the Cure-Oklahoma. Copyright 2008 All Rights Reserved Revolution Two Church theme by Brian Gardner Converted into Blogger Template by Bloganol dot com