OHA partners to advocate for smoke-free workplaces

Posted on: 7/3/19

On the left, Kelly Willingham, health improvement initiatives specialist, OHA, with Leslie Osborne, Oklahoma labor commissioner.
Everyone has the right to breathe clean, smoke-free air at work and in public places like bars and restaurants. OHA, in partnership with the Wellness Now Coalition, helped organize a Smokefree Oklahoma for a Healthy Workforce luncheon, which addressed smoke-free workplaces. This event, held last week, focused on educating community and business leaders on the importance of passing smoke-free workplace laws in the 2020 legislative session.

“The only business that smoke-free laws are bad for is the tobacco industry,” said Sharon Eubanks of Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation in her keynote speech. Decades of studies and economic analysis show that smoke-free laws are business friendly and do not cause adverse economic outcomes for businesses. (1)

Oklahoma Labor Commissioner Leslie Osborne, who spoke on a panel at the event, said for every eight smokers who die from smoking-related disease in Oklahoma, one nonsmoker dies from the same disease.

Currently, there are several loopholes in Oklahoma’s clean indoor air laws that still need to be addressed. Oklahoma is one of only three states that still allow smoking in bars. It wasn’t long ago that people were smoking in airplanes and hospitals. It’s time to pass comprehensive tobacco free laws, so we can add restaurants and bars to that list.

Despite a majority of Oklahoman’s (78.1%) supporting stronger tobacco policies and 100% tobacco free environments, (2) our state is still fighting the tobacco industry while an estimated 700 nonsmokers in Oklahoma continue to die each year from secondhand smoke.

The panelists empowered guests to talk to their legislators about passing comprehensive tobacco free laws, because until we strengthen our tobacco laws, we’ll continue to rank at the bottom of key health indicators.

OHA and Hospitals Helping Patients Quit have been working since 2009 to alleviate the burden of tobacco on Oklahoma. If you’re interested in strengthening your tobacco policy or enhancing your tobacco cessation services, contact Kelly Willingham at kwillingham@okoha.com or (405) 427-9537.

For related stories, go to News 9, The Oklahoman,and The Journal Record. (Kelly Willingham)