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AARP Supports Smoke Free Legislation

AARP Oklahoma is working with Smoke Free Oklahoma to strongly support legislation that would give communities the power to enact smoke-free ordinances, particularly in the workplace.

The legislation is being sponsored by State House Speaker Kris Steele, R-Shawnee.

Oklahoma is one of only two states in the nation that prohibit communities from adopting any tobacco-related ordinance that is stronger than state law, according to Smoke Free Oklahoma. What’s more, the group says that more than 6,000 Oklahomans die annually from smoking-related illness at an estimated cost of $2.9 billion each year.

“The data is clear, exposure to second-hand smoke is dangerous to your health,” says AARP Oklahoma Associate State Director Sean Voskuhl. “Second-hand smoke causes heart disease, lung cancer and other serious illnesses. We are pleased to join Smoke Free Oklahoma in supporting this important legislation because no Oklahoman should have to put their health at risk in order to earn a paycheck.”

Smoke Free Oklahoma says there is overwhelming evidence that improving the physical health of workers results in better fiscal health for employers and that a healthier workforce is a vital component for continuing competitive growth in the state.

Reducing tobacco use among workers generates financial returns from reduced health care costs, increased on-the-job productivity, reduced life and health insurance costs and reduced absenteeism, they said.

AARP is encouraging its members to call their state legislators and urge them to support legislation that would give communities the power to enact smoke-free ordinances.

The Oklahoma House of Representatives can be contacted at 1-800-522-8502 and the Oklahoma State Senate can be contacted at 1-800-865-6490.

The 2011 Legislative Session runs through May.

If you are interested in helping AARP Oklahoma advocate on behalf of this issue or other important issues, contact the state office about becoming an advocacy volunteer via email ok@aarp.org.

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