Now is time for public smoking ban

Published 9:20 am Wednesday, April 11, 2007

T en years ago Mississippi went fist for fist with the tobacco industry and won.

In exchange for the state’s knockout punch, Mississippi received the promise of $3 billion from cigarette makers. A lump sum came first, then money each year, and that money is still coming.

The money has been used for a variety of educational and smoking prevention programs in Mississippi schools.

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Attorney General Mike Moore filed the lawsuit in the 1990s, seeking compensation for the millions of dollars smoking-related illnesses had cost Mississippians.

But the state’s concern for the lungs of its people apparently stopped there.

Each year our legislators consider bills that would ban smoking in public places, but no such ban is in place.

Senators and representatives make excuses saying they don’t want to limit a person’s private rights, but isn’t that a tad hypocritical?

Ten years ago our state waved its collective hand in the face of cigarette makers telling them to stop killing our people.

We’ve acknowledged the need to teach our children to avoid cigarettes. We’ve taken large sums of money from the private cigarette industry and used that money for tobacco prevention causes.

But we continue to allow second-hand smoke to kill.

A number of towns and cities have enacted their own smoking bans. Natchez should follow suit.

By joining hands with other Mississippi communities, Natchez can send a message to state legislators that we won’t continue to allow a nasty habit to darken our lungs and our state.