Surprise: Lawmakers who receive $12,000 from tobacco lobbyists like to help protect the tobacco industry

senatorrobjohnson

The guy pictured above with the Affliction shirt and velvet sports jacket is not some dork trying to fit in at Rok Bar or Twin Peaks on a Friday Night. It’s actually State Senator Rob Johnson (R – Yukon). Since 2006, he’s received nearly $12,000 from tobacco lobbyists. That’s more than any other Oklahoma elected official. Knowing that, it shouldn’t be surprising to learn that Senator Smokey helped kill legislation that would have given Oklahoma cities and towns the right to enact their own anti-tobacco laws.

Via the Tulsa World:

A Senate panel killed a bill Monday that would allow cities and towns to pass ordinances more stringent than state laws governing tobacco use.

Opponents of Senate Bill 36 said they were reluctant to tell local businesses what they could and could not do.

“This is not about local control,” said Sen. Rob Johnson, R-Yukon. “It is about infringing on business people’s rights.”

 

First of all, let me clarify two things:

1. Yes, this legislation could have possibly infringed on business people’s rights to allow toxic, cancer-causing smoke to be inhaled and consumed on their premises. Crazy, huh? Hopefully Senator Johnson can protect us from over-reaching asbestos regulations, too.

2. Senator Johnson does probably try to get into Rok Bar or Twin Peaks on a Friday Night. Just look at that trying too hard loser. I bet he still watches MTV. He looks like his middle name is Roofie.

Anyway, the decision by Johnson, who once again received $12,000 from the tobacco lobby, to kill the legislation is so backwards that even Mary Fallin’s against it. She is leading an effort to get the law put on the ballot as a state question. Check out what her spokesman Alex Weintz said:

“This is a victory for the tobacco lobbyists and the tobacco industry,” said Alex Weintz, a Fallin spokesman. “It’s defeat for the state of Oklahoma and anyone who cares about improving our health. Moving forward, Gov. Fallin will be pursuing alternative measures aimed at reducing deaths and illnesses caused by smoking and secondhand smoke.”

To view and sign the petition, click here.

I guess I’m for this legislation, but I do see some issues.

For one, I know a lot of bar and restaurant owners who spent a chunk of change to create separate smoking facilities at their establishments. Would this law suck for them? Probably. Then again, they’ve more than likely profited from those rooms over the last four or five years, so claiming they’re losing hundreds of thousands of dollars by going smoke-free would be misleading.

I think a bigger concern is having different laws in different cities. Let’s say Oklahoma City established a law banning smoking in all buildings. What would happen if Yukon didn’t enact similar legislation? It would likely give their bars and restaurants a competitive advantage over places in OKC. That’s why instead of taking the easy road out and giving municipalities the power to enact their own laws, we should just get a law on the ballot that bans tobacco use in all indoor facilities. I don’t smoke cigarettes, and I also haven’t received $12,000 from the tobacco lobby, but that makes sense to me.