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New secondhand smoke law clears air

Athletes and spectators attending Mississippi’s youth sporting events will now enjoy smoke-free air, thanks to recent legislation.

The new law, passed in the 2010 session and signed by Gov. Haley Barbour, prohibits smoking within 100 feet of a facility where people under age 18 are participating in athletic events. It also prohibits smoking at indoor youth sporting events.

Everyone deserves to breathe smoke-free air. This new law protects children and adults who attend youth sporting events from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke.

The law took effect on July 1 and imposes warnings for first-time offenders and fines on repeat offenders.

“There is no safe level of secondhand smoke,” said Roy Hart, director of the Office of Tobacco Control at the Mississippi State Department of Health. “Five hundred and fifty Mississippi non-smokers die each year from secondhand smoke. While a comprehensive tobacco-free policy that includes spit tobacco would be even more effective, this new policy will offer protection from secondhand smoke for both children and adults who attend youth sporting events.

“Exposure to secondhand smoke causes heart disease and lung cancer in adults and increases the risk for sudden infant death syndrome, ear problems and more severe asthma in children.”

Eliminating secondhand smoke at youth sporting events allows children to focus on playing their game.

No one can be a good athlete while they are inhaling secondhand smoke.

For more information on the dangers of secondhand smoke, call the Tobacco-Free Coalition of Adams, Franklin and Jefferson Counties at 601-818-7748 or visit www.TobaccoFreeMS.org.

Paige Dickey is the director of the Tobacco-Free Coalition of Adams, Franklin and Jefferson counties.

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