An overwhelming major­ity approved proposed legis­lation that would allow cities and towns in Oklahoma to ban smoking in municipal parks in the Senate on Mar. 13.

Senate Bill 501, authored by Sen. Frank Simpson (R-Ard­more), was approved 44-1 and would give local governments the authority to ban smoking on property they own or operate.

“Many communities in Okla­homa had already approved city ordinances to do that, but the Attorney General recently ruled that was a violation of state law limiting local government control over the use of tobacco," Simpson said. "SB 501 establishes the right for county and municipal governments." Homer Nicholson, Oklahoma Municipal League Board President, said statistics indicate about 6,000 Oklahomans die each year from smoking and said many of the deaths come from secondhand smoking.

"SB 501 gives local control to cities in their efforts to better protect people from the dangers of tobacco," Nicholson said.

SB 501 will be sent to the House of Representatives for further consideration.