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Will The Growing List of Mississippi Cities With a Smoking Ban Lead To State-wide Laws?

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 23 Jul 2012 04:53pm | comments
Photo: KOMUnews Flikr

Advocates of an indoor smoking ban see the growing list of cities with a smoke-free ordinance as a step toward comprehensive smoke-free laws in Mississippi. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports 61 cities now have bans on smoking indoors in public places.

Three more towns in the delta, Alligator, Duncan and Sumner, are joining the list of Mississippi cities with an indoor smoking ban.

Charles Harvey has been mayor of Duncan for 20 years and says this decision was an easy one to make.

"Smoking ain't no good anyway. If you are smoking, read the back of the package and what does it say? Its a hazard to your health. You don't need a lot of knowledge to know that. If you want to live long and help your community than that is one way to start," Harvey said.

Harvey says the ban also sends the message that leaders in the town do not approve of smoking.

About a quarter of the state population lives in an area with a smoking ban and Dr. Steve Demetropoulos, the president of the Mississippi State Medical Association, says that could make it easier for state law maker to approve a state wide ban.

"I think there is a critical mass. If you city is already smoke-free and you are representing those areas to say 'well golly, what about all my friends and family in these rural areas'. Look at where we are. We already have this big of coverage. Wouldn't it make sense to have the whole state go smoke-free," Demetropoulos said.

Demetropoulos says bans have been proven to cut the rate of heart attacks and other diseases associated with second-hand smoke while not impacted the bottom line for businesses.

Advocates of a state wide ban have run into resistance in Mississippi.

53-year old George Burton steps outside for a smoke break in downtown Jackson...he thinks private businesses should be able to decide if they want to allow smoking.

"My biggest deal is, those are privately owned businesses. If they don't want us to smoke in there tha's fine. If the owners, not the government, if the owners don't want us smoking in here I don't have a problem with that," Burton said.

The restaurant and casino lobby have also been staunch opponents of these types of bans.

With Republicans in control of both legislative chambers and the Governor's mansion supporters of a state wide smoking ban could have a hard climb during the next legislative session.


Photo: KOMUnews Flikr



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