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Mississippi Smoking: How Your State is Doing on a Big Anniversary

JACKSON, Miss.–Time to put down those cigarettes for good. That’s the message today, just as it was 50 years ago when the Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking came out, saying officially that cigarettes are dangerous.

Now fewer Mississippians smoke and there are bans on smoking in government buildings (passed in 2006) and most hospitals, schools and college campuses have bans, with more set to be added. Mississippi also plenty of smoke-free cities, including the bigger ones, like Jackson, down to the smaller ones, like Metcalfe. 

Mississippi is also where the big anti-tobacco lawsuits got started. The movie The Insider was based off what happened with the first suits.

Dr. Jeffrey Wigand advocates for a tobacco-free America.

“They lied about addiction, they lied about light cigarettes, they lied about targeting children. They purported health benefits,” he said. “I’m 71 and I can remember on TV doctors coming out and saying when I have a sore throat, Camels really feel good.”

One reason less Mississippians may be smoking could also be the price of cigarettes. A pack could cost you as much as $5, thanks to federal and state taxes.

“I don’t think it’s so much about the labeling and the warning on the package, I think it’s been a whole constellation of efforts,” said Wigand.

But, the state still has a long way to go in some regards. The website says nearly one out of five Mississippi high schoolers smoke.

There is also over $141 million spent each year in the state on tobacco advertising, even though you won’t hear it on the radio or see the “Winston Tastes Good Like a Cigarette should” campaigns on TV.

Tobacco advertising is still legal on billboards and in magazines.

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