Biloxi hosting Mississippi Municipalities Convention

Mississippi Department of Health's Tobacco Control awards cities across the state for lowering tobacco usage.
Published: Jun. 26, 2023 at 10:17 PM CDT
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BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - Chairs were filled with leaders looking to make a positive impact on their city. According to data by Mississippi State University, 185 cities and 7 counties are now smoke-free including Moss Point, Pascagoula and Diamondhead.

“We actually win an award from the American Nonsmokers Rights, not every year but some years, for passing the most local smoke-free ordinances in any state in the United States,” said Robert McMillen. “It’s something we’re good at and have strong public support.”

Robert McMillen is a professor at Mississippi State University. He says having cities and counties transition to a smoke-free environment can only happen with public support and action from elected leaders.

“Our elected officials went out on a political limb to do this and faced a lot of opposition but voted unanimously to do it,” said McMillen. “And we like to recognize those who do the right thing for health but also the thing that might cause political capital.” “One of the most important things is your health,” said Strachan.

Ken Strachan is the mayor of North Carrollton Mississippi. Strachan says their board of aldermen passed a smoke-free ordinance through public support.

“It brought awareness to the citizens of our town about us being smoke-free and it brought awareness of the dangers of smoking and secondhand smoke,” said Mayor Strachan.

The award ceremony may serve as a first step towards a smoke-free Mississippi, leaders at the convention say they will continue their campaign through public awareness and setting examples.

“Basically, get that message out through as many venues as possible and by doing this we can hopefully educate a few more Mississippians on why it’s important to avoid tobacco and smoke,” McMillen.

The convention will continue through Wednesday.

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