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EDITORIAL: Smoking bills' death bad public policy

Publication Date: 3/13/2012
  • Author:EDITORIAL
  • Publication:Hattiesburg (MS) American

The death of a proposed statewide smoking ban last week may not have excited much interest, but the bills' demise is a loss for good public health policy and a comment on misplaced priorities.

This legislative session - the first with Republican majorities in both chambers - has been marked mostly by "red meat" political issues dear to the new GOP leadership. Charter schools, immigration and anti-abortion bills have proliferated, along with attempts to limit the power of the lone statewide Democratic officeholder, Attorney General Jim Hood.

But noticeably absent this session have been some just plain good government bills that serve the public. Among those that died last Tuesday were House Bills 892 and 893, and Senate Bills 2713 and 2873. Those bills would have banned smoking in enclosed public spaces, including restaurants. Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia have passed smoke-free laws, including Arkansas, Louisiana and Tennessee.

Opinion polls show that the majority of Mississippians support smoking curbs...