I'm always willing to admit when I am wrong. When the additional cigarette taxes went into effect in Oklahoma, many claimed it would force people to quit smoking. But I didn't buy it. My opinion was that smokers would simply sacrifice in other important areas of their expenses, and there would be little noticeable effect on the number of smokers in the state. I was wrong, it seems.
Oklahoma SmokersA recent report by the State Health Department said Oklahoma was #3 in the nation in percentage of smokers. That's pretty staggering and not in a good way. But the good news is that an estimated 30,000 residents quit smoking from 2005-2006. Although it's not definitely tied to the taxes, it seems to be a safe bet.
Well, many are hoping the 2006 restrictions across the state will only continue the effort.
Smoking in RestaurantsOklahoma restaurants must either be completely smoke-free or offer a separate, ventilated room for smokers. At the very least, supporters say, the new regulations will cut down on complications from second-hand smoke. At best, the added hardship on smokers may encourage more to quit.
In all honesty, I'm rarely a fan of exterior pressures to solve personal addictions. The old adage, "You have to want to quit" seems true to me. If someone doesn't have the true desire, the strength of will, the support system and often quite a bit of luck, addictions frequently aren't conquered. Nevertheless, I have hope that the number of smokers in Oklahoma will continue to drop. There's little doubt it's a serious health problem for our state.
Argument of OppositionThere were, of course, many that opposed the new smoking regulations for restaurants. And one major point of contention was whether any state body, the health department or the legislature, could dicate which customers a private business catered to. A private business, many claimed, should be able to make its own policy regarding smoking.
Regulations in EffectIn the end, the new restrictions were put in place. Restaurants were given quite some time to make their establishments either completely smoke-free or to build/modify a separate, ventilated room specifically for smokers. Many restaurants, without the resources to build such a room, have banned smoking completely.
Regardless of whether you feel like the restrictions are fair to impose on private businesses, what do you think the result will be for Oklahoma smokers?
POLL: Will the new restrictions on smoking in restaurants help cut down the number of Oklahoma smokers?Also, stop in to discuss the issue at the Oklahoma City forum.
3) I don't know