Protesters At Capitol Send 'Smoke Signal' To Governor Fallin


Wednesday, January 1st 2014, 5:52 pm
By: Dana Hertneky


Smoking is illegal on state property, but dozens were doing just that Wednesday at the state capitol. They were protesting a ban on e-cigarettes that took effect Jan. 1.  

The group says they believe Gov. Mary Fallin overstepped her authority when she banned e-cigarettes on all state property. Gerene Taylor was among the more than two dozen protestors. She was a smoker for 15 years, but was holding an e-cig. She says since she started using it, she hasn't had a cigarette in six weeks. 

"I'm a person that does not have a strong fortitude, so it's amazing that it has worked," Taylor said.

But late last month, Fallin signed an executive order prohibiting the use of electronic cigarettes on all state-owned and leased properties, saying the long term health impacts are unknown and the ban is to protect the health of employees and visitors to state properties.

"The executive office is supposed to execute the laws of the land, not make the laws of the land," said Howard Houchen, one of the organizers of the protest. "The legislature has not acted on e-cigarettes and vaping devices."

The one legislator at the protest: State Rep. Richard Morrisette, who told the crowd his mother was a smoker and died because of it. He believes this isn't a health issue, but a financial one.

"Follow the money, there's got to be a root of this somewhere," said Morrisette, (D) - OKC.

Many of the protestors not only smoked prohibited e-cigarettes, but banned pipes and banned tobacco products in what they called an act of civil disobedience. They say there are hoping to send a "smoke signal" of sorts.

"All we are asking is for a fair shot," said Houchen. "Give us our voice with our representatives and our state senators. Let us provide them with information."