The Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) is leading a statewide campaign to educate Mississippians about the dangers of secondhand smoke.
"Every Mississippian has the right to breathe clean, smoke-free air," said State Health Officer Dr. Mary Currier. "Our goal is to complete a two-year campaign that will inform Mississippians about the benefits of smoke-free air, educate residents about the harmful effects of breathing secondhand smoke, and support a comprehensive statewide smoke-free air law."
Other Mississippi health advocate organizations are partnering with MSDH to help with the Smoke Free Air Mississippi campaign. The campaign will include extensive grassroots efforts, a statewide media campaign, and collaboration with key partners to support the passage of a comprehensive smoke-free air law.
Each year in Mississippi, smoking accounts for an estimated 5,250 premature deaths, including 550 deaths among nonsmokers as a result of secondhand smoke.
A recent study in Starkville showed a 27 percent decrease in heart attacks in the city after the implementation of a smoke-free air ordinance. The study focused on Starkville residents in the three-year span after the law went into effect, compared to three years prior. It showed fewer heart attacks being treated at the Oktibbeha County Hospital following the implementation of the smoke-free air ordinance.
"Secondhand smoke contains dangerous particles that can contribute to lung cancer, heart disease and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome," said Dr. Currier. "We’ve all been touched by cancer and have loved ones who have paid the cost of their tobacco addictions. We also believe many smokers may not realize they’re putting others in danger by smoking and producing smoke that others inhale, even if for just a short time. It’s time for a better environment and future for our families."
MSDH received a $2.9 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to help educate Mississippians on the benefits of smoke-free air.