On Thursday at the Starkville Sportsplex and Nov. 10 at the BancorpSouth Center in Tupelo, health care providers, elected leaders, business owners and individuals will speak about the importance of smoke-free air in public spaces and workplaces during the "Clearing the Air" community forums.
The forums, which include lunch, are part of a statewide series of meetings.
Public health statistics estimate 559 nonsmoking Mississippians die each year from exposure to secondhand smoke.
"The research is clear: There's no safe level of exposure," said Roy Hart, director of tobacco control for the state health department.
In Mississippi, more than 35 municipalities have ordinances, but public health advocates would like to see Mississippi join the 27 states across the country that have statewide laws.
"It's really difficult to protect everybody with municipal ordinances," Hart said, especially in a state as rural as Mississippi.
The effort is not a push to make smoking illegal, Hart said.
"People have a right to smoke in any situation that doesn't cause involuntary exposure to someone else," Hart said.
Contact Michaela Gibson Morris at (662) 678-1599 or firstname.lastname@example.org.