The Oklahoma Legislature May Need You to Start Smoking

A question from David Van Risseghem on his Facebook page got me thinking. He asked, “Hey? Is the impending special session being called to help folks quit smoking? Or just to get more money?”

Very quick background for those who don’t know – During the last Oklahoma legislative session a bill was passed enacting a $1.50 per pack ‘cessation fee.’ Senate Bill 845, the Smoking Cessation and Prevention Act of 2017, was designed to bring in about $215 million into the state coffers. Earlier this week the state Supreme Court ruled the bill violates the Oklahoma Constitution for various reasons that are completely correct but not relevant to the discussion here.

Now the question is what to do about the $215 million in taxes (note – taxes, not ‘fees’) that the state will not be receiving, but was included by the legislature in the 2017-2018 budget appropriations. Conventional wisdom seems to be that the governor will call for a special session of the legislature. I’d say that’s a certainty as soon as the legislative leadership devises a plan to […] → Keep reading

E-Cigarettes: To Ban or Not To Ban?

After reading Larry Jackson’s post on e-cigarettes at Political Realities I was curious to know more about them, specifically the reasons why some local and state governments, including Oklahoma, have banned their use on government property. Governor Mary Fallin created a furor last month when she issued an executive order banning the use of e-cigarettes on Oklahoma state property. One look at the comments section of the NewsOK.com article about the ban makes it clear her decision is not popular at all. At least not with those who comment on such articles. I have yet to discuss the ban with my coworkers. Full disclosure – I am a state government employee.

Despite the less-than-compelling explanation given by the Governor’s office for the ban, from what I have read of e-cigarettes I come down on the side of agreeing completely with the ban. I don’t believe there is currently enough information available on the harmfulness of the vapors. Those who support the use of e-cigarettes are very vocal in saying it is just water vapor and there is nothing harmful […] → Keep reading