Statewide Smoking Ban Considered

By: Jon Kalahar Email
By: Jon Kalahar Email

Thirty cities in Mississippi have smoking bans in place. There is a push now for a statewide ban.

"Generally we choose restaurants that are smoke-free," said Jeanette Gossett of Meridian, a lung cancer survivor.

Gossett said she knows the dangers of smoking and second-hand smoke. She now tries to stay away from both.

"I have a son who smokes, but he doesn't smoke around mom," Gossett said.

Right now, Gossett's hometown isn't one of the thirty cities who have passed smoking ban ordinances. But new numbers from a Mississippi State poll show 80 percent of Mississippians want a statewide ban in restaurants and workplaces.

"The less places people can smoke, it will help then, and it brings to their attention that smoking is bad," said Kimberly Hughes of the American Cancer Society. "Smoking around other people is bad; smoking around your children is bad."

The proposed legislation would ban smoking within twenty feet of workplace entry ways. The main opponent of legislation like this, the Mississippi Restaurant and Hospitality Association, says it will reserve comment until they see the bill in writing.

And once the legislative process is finished, the bill could look a lot different by the time it gets to the governor's desk for his signature.

"We've got our work cut out for us, to work with our leaders in this building to let them know it's time for Mississippi to join the other states," said Hughes.

The big knock against smoking bans, at least from a money-making point of view, is it decreases business.

According to Smoke Free Mississippi, the decrease only lasts a couple of weeks, then customers return.

Do you think Mississippi should have a statewide smoking ban in public places, including restaurants?

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