Smoking bill important for residents

Published 12:05 am Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Mississippi lawmakers will do many things wrong during the current legislative session.

But if they have guts — which tend to be rare during election years — they could make a bold change that may impact the health of Mississippians for years to come.

House Bill 770 seeks to ban smoking in any public places in Mississippi. That includes casinos, bars and restaurants.

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The goal isn’t to punish people who seek to inhale cancer causing fumes into their lungs, but to protect the countless others who seek not to do so.

HB 770 likely won’t see the light of day this year as critics will cry foul and point to all sorts of personal rights that smokers feel the law will trample.

Lung, mouth and throat cancers cost our nation hundreds of millions — if not billions — of dollars annually in medical cost and lost productivity in the workplace.

At present, many non-smoking workers are subject to second-hand smoke simply because they need a job and their job requires such exposure.

That simply seems unfair to workers, as unfair as the many practices of long ago that the federal government stamped out with the adoption of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938.

Allowing smoking in the workplace is an outdated practice that needs to go away soon.

We hope lawmakers will give strong consideration to making a positive, progressive move toward the health of Mississippi workers.