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Two-Thirds of Mississippi Voters Support Law Making All Workplaces Smoke-Free

Health groups say everyone has the right to breathe clean air inside workplaces, including casinos, restaurants and bars
February 15, 2012

Jackson, Miss. — A new poll released today finds that Mississippi voters overwhelmingly support a law prohibiting smoking inside all workplaces and public places.

By a margin of more than two-to-one (68 percent to 29 percent), Mississippi voters support a law that would prohibit smoking in indoor workplaces and public places, including offices, casinos, restaurants and bars. This includes 58 percent who strongly favor the law. Support crosses party lines, with 68 percent of Republicans, 68 percent of Democrats and 70 percent of Independents expressing support for a smoke-free workplace law.

“Voters know that secondhand smoke is a health hazard, and this poll shows that they want a strong law protecting their right to breathe clean air,' said Katherine Bryant, with the American Heart Association. “The Legislature should listen to the people of Mississippi and act to make all workplaces smoke-free.”

The survey of 500 registered voters was released by the Smokefree Mississippi campaign, a coalition of over 100 health groups including the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and the Partnership for a Healthy Mississippi. The poll was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The survey also found among Mississippi voters:

  • 87 percent believe that secondhand smoke is a health hazard, including 68 percent who say it is a serious health hazard.

  • 75 percent believe the right of employees and customers to breathe clean air in casinos, restaurants and bars is more important than the right of smokers to smoke and businesses owners to allow smoking.

  • 88 percent feel all workers in the state should be protected from exposure to secondhand smoke in the workplace.

Mississippi voters recognize the benefits of a smoke-free environment, saying that casinos, restaurants and bars would be healthier and more enjoyable if they were smoke-free. Nearly nine out of ten voters (87 percent) believe that these places would be healthier, and 85 percent want to be able to enjoy Mississippi’s casinos, restaurants and bars without smelling like smoke at the end of the evening.

“Secondhand smoke is harmful to everyone, and everyone should be protected from it,” said Bryant. “It is a matter of fairness — everyone should have the right to breathe clean air on the job, whether they work behind a desk or behind a bar. No worker should have to put their health at risk in order to earn a paycheck.”

The need for protection from secondhand smoke in all workplaces and public places has never been clearer. Secondhand smoke contains thousands of chemicals, many of which are toxic (such as formaldehyde, arsenic and lead), and is a proven cause of cancer, heart disease and respiratory illnesses. Twenty-nine states currently have strong smoke-free laws that include restaurants and bars.

The survey of a random sample of 500 likely 2012 general election voters in Mississippi was conducted by Public Opinion Strategies. The survey was conducted by landline telephone January 10 and 12, 2012. Voters were screened for likely participation in the November 2012 general election. To assure that the data are representative of the population, the results were checked against expected November 2012 turnout and weighted by key demographics when necessary based on POS’s projection of a likely November 2012 turnout. Overall results have a margin of error of +/- 4.38 percentage points.