Advocates are asking lawmakers to ban smoking in public places and in some cases, even on the roadways.

" /> Health Advocates Pushing for Smoking Bans | News | Mississippi Public Broadcasting
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Health Advocates Pushing for Smoking Bans

By Daniel Cherry | Published 06 Feb 2012 06:58pm | comments

Health advocates in Mississippi are hoping to stomp out smoking in public places across the state. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports how groups say millions of tax dollars are going up in smoke each year.

Health organizations in Mississippi want the legislature to pass a bill that would create a statewide ban on smoking in public. Mississippi is one of only 7 states without such a law. Dr. Michael Mansour is the President of the Mississippi Chapter of the American College of Cardiology. He says Starkville and Hattiesburg both have no smoking ordinances, and after a five year study, both cities showed major improvements.

"Starkville saw about a 28% decrease in heart attack admissions during that time and Hattiesburg about a 15% decrease. And it saved millions of dollars in healthcare costs over that 5 year period."

Another bill is aimed at protecting those who cant help themselves when it comes to smoking. Senator Hillman Frazier of Jackson is pushing legislation that would make smoking in a car with a child a misdemeanor. Frazier says children are strapped into their car seats and forced to endure deadly second hand smoke.

"We're trying to nip it in the bud on the front end because 2nd hand smoke kills. It causes problems time and time again. We're trying to make sure that innocent kids aren't victimized by 2nd hand smoke because they have no say-so in the matter."

Anti public smoking legislation failed in the Capitol last year. House Public Health Vice Chairman, Toby Barker, says some of the same concerns remain among certain lawmakers.

"This is another matter that may not be as palatable to some legislators. I know there are several schools of thought from, 'Yes we ought to do it.' to, 'Well, let's let our local municipalities and counties handle this.' And there are some who think government shouldn't be in the business of doing this at all."

It's estimated a smoking ban would save Mississippi nearly 50 million dollars each year.

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