Mississippi's Tobacco Fight

Published on August 26th, 2010 13:27

This autumn, the Mississippi Department of Health will inform citizens at the television and radio commercial breaks about the dangers of secondhand smoke, months before legislators will file bills related to the issue.

“Being a public health agency we will support a policy in order to protect Mississippians from significant dangers of secondhand smoke,” State Health Officer Dr. Mary Currier stated.

She declared that in present her agency is working on the awareness campaign, called “__Smoke-free Air Mississippi__”. “The state is using $1.8 million in funding from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for an educational campaign, “Liz Sharlot, a representative of the agency stated.

“We trust that sooner or later there will be a public policy that will support smoke-free air in public places,” Sharlot said.

tobacco fight

Officials from the American Lung Association said that already 27 states have passed laws that prohibit smoking in all public places and workplaces, including restaurants and bars.

That data doesn’t take into account the great number of cities across the country that have adopted local ordinances, including 35 municipalities in Mississippi.

As far any statewide ban, House Public Health Committee Chairman Steve Holland, D-Plantersville, has been a major obstacle what concerns implementing the legislation. He postponed similar legislation for several years. Holland declared that knows about the dangers of smoking.

“I like how the municipalities do it individually. I have never allowed the committee vote on it. If you want to smoke, by God, smoke,” Holland declared.

Legislators realized to budge a bit this past year. Governor Haley Barbour, a former tobacco lobbyist, adopted a law that prohibits smoking within 100 feet of an athletic facility where people under age 18 are participating in athletic events. The given law also prohibits smoking at indoor youth sporting events.

Those who violate the law will receive a warning or fines of up to $150.

“We have prohibited just about everything. I didn’t like the idea when we prohibited smoking at Mississippi games. Everything that is bad is part of our culture,” Holland stated.

According to Sharlot about 80% of Mississippi citizens don’t smoke. But those who continue to use tobacco products contribute to other terrifying data realized by the agency: 5,250 premature deaths each year and 550 nonsmokers’ deaths.

Tens of millions of dollars have been spent within the last years on educating Mississippi citizens about smoking dangers. Once, the state was a national model for its tobacco prevention programs due to the significant steps made by the Partnership for a Healthy Mississippi, a private, uncommercial group led by former Mississippi state attorney Mike Moore.

Many think that a statewide law should be the next step in Mississippi’s tobacco fight.

By Kevin Lawson, Staff Writer. Copyright © 2010 TobaccoPub.com. All rights reserved.

Related tags: mississippi | tobacco | secondhand smoke

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