Political Forum

Tahlequah, OK – Okla candidates say state must address social ills

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. (AP) Oklahoma's major candidates for governor say the state must address a number of social ills, but they differ on how to lower high rates of smoking, drug abuse and poor health.

At a candidate forum in Tahlequah, Lt. Gov. Jari Askins said Oklahomans need to learn more about healthy lifestyles and that the state's network of county health departments can help spread the word.

Attorney General Drew Edmondson said Oklahoma is on the "wrong end" when states are listed for smoking rates, drug abuse and general health. He touted a state program that uses interest from a tobacco lawsuit settlement to fund health programs.

Congresswoman Mary Fallin said there are national programs that could be adapted for use in Oklahoma, saying it's "too good of a state" to rate poorly on indexes ranking health-related issues.

State Sen. Randy Brogdon said people need to take personal responsibility for their health and that Oklahomans shouldn't have to rely on state programs to improve their health.