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Study supports smoking ban

STARKVILLE — A Mississippi State University (MSU) study released Nov. 9 shows a 27 percent decrease in heart attacks among Starkville residents since the city passed a smoking ban in 2006.

Researchers associated with the university report also are recommending a statewide public ban on smoking.

The study by Robert McMillen and Dr. Robert Collins shows fewer heart attacks being treated at the Oktibbeha County Hospital. It focused on Starkville residents in the three-year span after the ban became law, compared to three years prior.

Their findings are part of a larger SSRC evaluation of Mississippi communities that passed smoking bans in recent years. McMillen said the data shows Starkville benefitting medically from the smoking ban.

“The emerging scientific consensus clearly demonstrates that communities like Starkville can reduce heart attacks simply by prohibiting smoking in indoor public places,” McMillen said. “Smoke-free laws are popular with the public and are free to implement.”

Collins, an MSU physician since 1977, said the 27 percent decrease in heart attacks in Starkville translates into 14 fewer heart attacks for local citizens and an estimated $750,000 not spent on heart attack aftercare, based on reports of the average financial costs for heart attacks.

Data from the Mississippi State Department of Health and national figures indicates the state would save an estimated $125 million annually in health care expenses if a legislatively mandated smoking ban was enacted, he added.

“I plead with the Mississippi Legislature to ban smoking in public places,” Collins said. “Our data reflects the findings of every other community that has looked at what happened when smoking is banned in public venues.”

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