Pendulum continues to go in non-smokers’ favor

Published 12:28 pm Monday, May 10, 2010

The issue of smoking – or more specifically where it can be done- continues to grab headlines around the state.

An anti-tobacco program representative this past week asked theboard of aldermen to expand Brookhaven’s no smoking law to make thecity 100 percent smoke-free. The city’s current law allows smokingin restaurants that have separate ventilation systems to handle thesmoky air.

According to the Mississippi Department of Health, there are 27cities in the state that have laws making them 100 percentsmoke-free in public places. Brookhaven is among eight that havepartial smoke-free ordinances.

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Brookhaven officials said they’d give the 100 percent smoke-freeidea more consideration but did not take any other action on thematter.

Regardless of local laws, though, a state law taking effect July 1will prohibit smoking within 100 feet of facilities hosting youthsporting events. Indoor smoking at such events will also bebanned.

Although lawmaker reservation kept the bill from addressingsmokeless products, state Sen. Hob Bryan, its primary author, seesthe measure as a positive step in curbing exposure to secondhandsmoke and in reversing a bad message smoking sends to youngpeople.

“I think what we have learned over the years is that tobaccoproducts are marketed to young people as giving them an air ofsophistication. That is designed to make smoking appealing,” Bryantold the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal in a report on the newstate law. “We now know nicotine is terribly addictive. I think oneof the main things we can do is try to get out another point ofview other than the air of sophistication that has beenmarketed.”

Few will argue that smoking is not bad, but it is habit-forming forsome and others simply enjoy lighting up from time to time.

The issue really, though, is exposure for those who do not smokeand who do not want to have to breathe in poisonous air. Clearly,the pendulum is swinging in their direction and public places wheresmoking is allowed are getting fewer and fewer.