You asked: What is the MS Tobacco Free Coalition?
Q: What is the Mississippi Tobacco Free Coalition for Copiah and Lincoln Counties?
A: The Mississippi Tobacco-Free coalition of Copiah and Lincoln Counties advocates for healthy lives and tobacco-free policies throughout Mississippi, said Project Director Mieshia Smith.
On Wednesday, the coalition held its quarterly meeting at the First Street Business Center across from the Lincoln County-Brookhaven Government Complex. The main focus of the meeting was informing coalition members of what e-cigarettes are and the misconceptions surrounding them.
Through the coalition, Smith speaks to various organizations and school groups in the two counties about tobacco use as the No. 1 cause of preventable death in the United States. Secondhand smoke exposure can lead to lung cancer, heart disease, asthma, lower respiratory infections, ear infections, and sudden infant death syndrome, she said.
The coalition provides free presentations and free resources to the public to educate them about healthy living and tobacco-free policies, she said.
The latest focus for the coalition is to share information about the dangers of e-cigarette use.
“A single pre-filled liquid nicotine JUUL pod contains as much nicotine as a pack of cigarettes. These are things that our youth needs to know,” she said. “The work of the coalition is important because the efforts we make today help protect the generations now and those to come.”
Coalition volunteers are a diverse group of people who come from all walks of life “that have come together to support healthy lives in Mississippi,” she said.
The MTFC of Copiah and Lincoln Counties has had over 236 coalition events in 2018 and 2019. These events include free awareness presentations, second-hand smoke presentations, smoke-free ordinance work, providing smoke-free signs to schools, merchant training and youth tobacco prevention contests.
The coalitions are funded by the Department of Health through the Office of Tobacco Control. The Department of Health has 34 coalitions that cover all 82 counties of the state.
In Brookhaven, a smoke-free ordinance was passed in 2008 and updated in April. The ordinance prohibits smoking in public places, including indoor spaces. It was amended this month to allow vaping in vape stores.
The model for the smoke-free ordinance was supplied by the Department of Health. So far, 123 municipalities have passed comprehensive smoke-free ordinances.
“For some people, it’s life or death,” Smith said. “Every breath counts. Everyone deserves to breathe clean, smoke free air.”
During the meeting, Smith talked about Juuling and how it works. Juul is a brand of e-cigarette that resembles a USB drive. The Juul has a place for the pods to go, which contain the liquid ingested by the user.
According to data Smith presented at the meeting, E-cigarettes are an alternative to smoking, but are still just as harmful due to their containment of nicotine.
According to the Department of Health, proper research hasn’t been conducted for the effects of using e-cigarettes. According to the Mississippi Tobacco Free Coalition, the Food and Drug Association has refused to label e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation tool due to the lack of research conducted by e-cigarette companies.
To join the coalition’s efforts to promote healthy living and tobacco-free policies in Mississippi, contact Smith at 601-899-5880 ext. 3 or email Msmith@NCADDms.org.
Story by Gracie Byrne