Let’s Pass a Statewide Smoking Ban in 2013
April 26, 2012
I’m hoping Mississippi lawmakers will try again in 2013 to make our state smoke-free. A smoking ban bill died during this year’s session. Mississippians are long overdue for legislation to protect them from being exposed to secondhand smoke.
The topic of smoking is very serious to me. In 2008, my mother died from emphysema/chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) caused by years of smoking. My mother said she was influenced by a girl in high school to smoke her first cigarette. When the doctor diagnosed her in 1999, he gave her five years to live. He said her lungs had been severely damaged by smoking and there was no cure for COPD. She looked at the doctor and said, “I smoked too many cigarettes.” The doctor nodded back in agreement. The last several years of her life she was on oxygen and used another machine to help her breathe. She had to be hospitalized so many times I stopped counting. During some of her admissions to the hospital, she had to be put on a breathing machine. Visiting her in the ICU was one of the hardest things for me to do, especially being an only child. She would often say she wished she had never picked up that first cigarette.
Smoking is the No. 1 preventable cause of death in the U.S. Most smokers feel they should have the right to smoke in a public place if they’re spending money at a restaurant, bar, or other establishment. They may have the right to smoke, but non-smokers and people who are allergic to secondhand smoke should also have the right to breathe clean, smoke-free air.
The American Lung Association and other health advocacy groups are working hard to create a smoke-free Mississippi and reduce deaths caused by smoking. Some government leaders would argue they’re also addressing the issue. Mississippi has a multimillion dollar tobacco fund that’s used to educate citizens about smoking and how to quit, but it seems a little hypocritical to me. Instead of educating the public on how to stop smoking with tobacco funds, lawmakers should be passing legislation to discourage people from smoking, period.
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