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Oklahoma Tobacco Retailers Form Alliance

TULSA, Okla. -- Joe Lane, a local rancher and independent smoke shops owner, has been elected president of the newly organized public education group, Tobacco Retailers Alliance.

Steve Bruner, also a smoke shops owner and president of Broken Arrow, Okla.-based Bruner Investments, was elected chairman of public affairs. Lane and Bruner emphasized that the first job of the nonprofit educational group is to lead a statewide campaign to stop the continuing regressive taxation of tobacco products.

"The Tobacco Retailers Alliance will now embark on a good citizenship program of activities to support worthy state programs on behalf of several hundred members who run smoke shops for tobacco products in Oklahoma and bordering states," stated Lane.

Bruner added that there are much better ways to raise public awareness of the need to discourage smoking and other potentially harmful tobacco uses. He feels that the majority of Oklahomans should be free to say "No" to the use of tobacco and "No" to any new taxes.

Lane and Bruner emphasized they will launch "a modest and truthful, unemotional campaign" to gain support to defeat on Nov. 2 State Question 713 that would increase tobacco taxes as much as $8 on a carton of cigarettes and higher on other tobacco products.

They also announced that the new group had retained veteran public relations executive and leader Dean Sims, founder and chairman of Tulsa-based Public Relations International, for counsel on association management and marketing communications.

All emphasized that Indian tribes have the option of supporting the association's activities but are not involved as such in Alliance management.

"Admittedly," said Lane, "most of us are members of one tribe or another but we do not officially represent any tribe in this public education group dedicated to the economic health of independently owned businesses such as convenience stores, grocery stores and other retailers."
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