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Oklahoma Veterans Who Smoke Fear Having to Move From State Centers

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Veterans living in state-run centers in Oklahoma are worried they may have to move out because they smoke. A new order signed by the governor bans the use of tobacco products on any properties owned, leased or contracted for use by the state.

The order takes effect August 6, according to The Oklahoman. Oklahoma Veterans Affairs Department spokeswoman Belinda White told the newspaper it isn’t clear how the agency will enforce the order. She said about one-fifth of the 1,376 veterans living at state-run centers are tobacco users.

“We are in the beginning processes of developing procedures for implementation of the executive order,” she said in a statement. “We have not addressed the noncompliance issue, but do not see discharge as a method for compliance.”

White told the newspaper her department opposes the order. She points out many veterans were supplied with tobacco while they were in the service.

Alex Weintz, a spokesman for Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin, said the order does not have an enforcement mechanism.

“Banning tobacco use on state property represents an inconvenience to smokers,” he said. “That inconvenience, however, is small compared with the thousands of lives and hundreds of millions of dollars that could be saved if fewer Oklahomans chose to smoke or use tobacco products.”

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