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Despite clear and conclusive evidence that second-hand smoke is killing people, the Mississippi Legislature again has failed to pass a bill prohibiting smoking in public places.
The legislation died in the House Public Health Committee (obviously a misnamed committee) after the chairman, Steve Holland, a Plantersville Democrat, said he could not muster enough votes to get it out of committee.
The bill, which originally would have banned smoking in most public places, including restaurants, bars and stores, already had been gutted in the state Senate to only apply to government buildings. Smoking generally is not permitted public buildings now.
The defeat was a setback for Smokefree Air Mississippi, a partnership of the American Cancer Society, the American Lung Association, the American Heart Association and the Partnership for a Healthy Mississippi.
It’s also a slap at the citizens of Mississippi who overwhelmingly favored the proposal, according to a survey taken by Mississippi State University’s Social Science Research Center. The survey showed the proposal was supported by 78 percent of the populace.
Much of the opposition to the bill came from the Mississippi Hospitality and Restaurant Association, even though most restaurants in the state already prohibit smoking.
It also was heavily opposed by the casino industry. We guess the premise is that if you can’t smoke, you won’t gamble.
Thirty-seven municipalities in the state ban smoking in public places. The city of New Albany needs to join them in taking better care of our citizens’ health than the state politicians have.