Mississippi is a state that has lagged behind the rest of the country in terms of health outcomes, and is in the bottom five for most health outcome indicators. To combat this, more and more cities in Mississippi are voting to become smoke-free, recognizing the value it brings to residents and visitors. This article will provide an overview of the current state of smoke-free laws in Mississippi, the health risks associated with smoking and second-hand smoke, and how to protect yourself from exposure to these toxins. Smoking and vaping, as well as exposure to second-hand smoke and aerosols, can have a detrimental effect on the respiratory system and can cause a person's immune system to not function properly, known as immunosuppression.
Passive exposure to tobacco smoke can lead to heart disease, stroke and lung cancer in adults, as well as respiratory diseases, ear infections, sudden infant death syndrome, more serious and frequent asthma attacks, and slowed lung growth in children. At present, Mississippi does not have a statewide law prohibiting smoking in workplaces, including restaurants, bars, private clubs, and casinos. However, many cities have adopted their own laws that prohibit smoking in public places. These laws are essential for increasing community awareness of anti-smoking regulations and their enforcement.
Other approaches such as air ventilation systems and separate sections for smokers and non-smokers do not eliminate exposure to second-hand smoke. Anti-smoking laws should also forbid the use of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes), marijuana and hookah to prevent exposure of second-hand smoke to toxins, carcinogens, fine particles and volatile organic compounds that have been shown to compromise respiratory and cardiovascular health. Idaho, Mississippi, North Carolina and Oklahoma prohibit smoking in government workplaces but not in private ones. Mississippi is uniquely positioned to be a leader in the comprehensive protection of smoke-free spaces in southern states. Anti-smoking laws help reduce the prevalence of smoking among adults and prevent youth and young adults from starting to smoke. Although the number of laws on 100% smoke-free air has increased in states over time, there are still opportunities for greater protection against second-hand smoke.
African Americans in Mississippi have the highest poverty rate (34%), the highest rate of people with less than a high school education (29%), and one of the highest rates of people without health insurance (13%). Beyond exposure to second-hand smoke, non-smokers exposed to third-hand smoke in a casino are at increasing risk than those living in a home contaminated by third-party smoke. Thousands of workers are still exposed to second-hand smoke in workplaces including restaurants, bars, private clubs and casinos. To protect yourself from these toxins it is important to avoid exposure by adopting an anti-smoking policy that prohibits smoking or vaping indoors and moving them to socially distanced outdoor areas away from entrances. This could help mitigate worker and public exposure to carcinogens and toxins as well as COVID.