By Michaela Gibson Morris/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Advocates marked the Great American Smoke Out by laying out the case for a Smoke Free Mississippi.
“We in Mississippi have everything to gain and nothing to lose by enacting smoke free legislation,” Baldwyn resident Carol Allen said during a Thursday night forum at the Link Centre in Tupelo.
Surveys show 74 percent of Mississippians favor a comprehensive smoke free workplace law that covers restaurants and bars for the entire state.
So far, 65 municipalities, including 13 in Northeast Mississippi, have enacted comprehensive smoke free ordinances.
“I’m proud to say we live in a city that’s smoke free friendly,” said Tupelo city councilman and respiratory therapist Jim Newell, who opened the forum before about a dozen people.
A number of studies have shown no economic impact or a positive economic impact from comprehensive smoking bans.
Studies showing a decrease in the number of heart attacks after smoke free laws take effect have been replicated in Mississippi and elsewhere.
Despite the success in so many cities, less than a quarter of the state’s population is covered by a comprehensive smoke free ordinance.
A statewide law is the only way to cover the many Mississippians who live in rural, incorporated areas.
“All Mississippians deserve to breathe smoke free air in the workplace,” said Partnership for a Healthy Mississippi governmental relations director Rhonda Lampkin, who represented the broad coalition of more than 100 organizations that make up Smoke Free Mississippi on Thursday.
A similar forum was held Thursday night on the Gulf Coast.
More activities are planned to encourage people to make their voices heard by state legislators, said KC Grist, one of three regional coordinators for the Smoke Free Mississippi coalition.
“It’s so important for communities and leaders to step out and say how good it’s been,” in cities like Tupelo which passed a smoke free ordinance six years ago, said Grist, who lives in Tupelo.