JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Advocates in support of a statewide smoking ban gathered at the capitol Wednesday to ask lawmakers to vote 'yes' on this legislation.
"We do not have a strong statewide law to protect all Mississippians from second hand smoke," said American Heart Association Government Relations Director Katherine Bryant.
Senate Bill 2726 and House Bill 863 would virtually erase smoking from indoors a public building.
This includes restaurants and casinos throughout the state.
In addition, it would also enforce that smokers stand 20 to 25 feet away from a public building if they are smoking.
"Just walking through an area or sitting in an area with second hand smoke can increase the risk of having a heart attack," said State Health Dept. Director, Dr. Mary Currier.
Currently more than 35 municipalities in the state are smoke-free.
However, the Mississippi Hospitality and Restaurant Association disagrees with the statewide legislation saying it could hurt the restaurant business.
"We're opposed to the statewide smoking ban," said MHRA Director, Mike Cashion. "Primarily because we believe that business owners should have the right to set their smoking policy based on consumer demand."
Cashion says the measure should be left up to municipalities to decide rather than a demand from the state.
"We're at a point where we need to make sure that policy that's being created doesn't do any harm to the business community and the restaurant industry specifically."
Jeanette Gossett, Meridian resident, is a supporter of the ban and says she understands first-hand the dangers of second hand smoke.
"I am a lung cancer survivor who never smoked," Gossett said. "And most of my exposure came from the work place. I had office jobs where smoking was allowed."
Lawmakers are expected to address this legislation by Feb. 1st.
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