Secondhand Smoke: Impact on Health and Economy

Saturday, August 11th, 2012

As state and local policymakers debate proposed laws and ordinances to reduce public exposure to secondhand smoke, many people have questions about the risks associated with secondhand smoke and the potential impact that smoke-free policies may have on the business community.

The Center for Mississippi Health Policy reviewed the scientific literature on the subject and prepared an issue brief summarizing the research, with a particular emphasis on data specific to Mississippi.

Key Findings

Considerable research evidence exists documenting the negative health effects of secondhand smoke, particularly with regard to heart disease and asthma. Studies on the economic impact of smoke-free laws on the business community have generally focused on the hospitality industry and have shown that smoke-free policies do not negatively affect business revenues or operating costs. Any conclusions drawn about the impact of smoke-free policy on full-scale casinos are premature, because there are not enough data available to assess what, if any, impact these policies are having on this portion of the gaming industry.  Other types of gaming venues have not been negatively affected by smoke-free policy.

The findings specific to Mississippi include the following:

  • Studies conducted in Starkville and Hattiesburg documented substantial reductions in admissions and costs associated with heart attacks following the implementation of smoke-free policies in these cities.
  • Tourism and economic development (TED) tax revenues were 10.3% higher in Mississippi’s smoke-free communities, compared with TED tax revenues in communities without smoke-free ordinances.
  • Mississippi is one of only seven states without any kind of statewide law restricting smoking in private indoor workplaces, restaurants, or bars.

Copies of the issue brief can be downloaded HERE.   Printed copies of the issue brief may be obtained by contacting the Center for Mississippi Health Policy at 601-709-2133 or by e-mail at

Reports on the Starkville and Hattiesburg studies, as well as other tobacco related research specific to Mississippi can be found at