STARKVILLE, Miss. (WCBI) – Thursday is World No Tobacco Day. A day to take a 24-hour breather from tobacco products.
The number of adults and kids lighting up has been on a steady decline but it is still above the national average.
Robert McMillan has dedicated his time to studying the relationship between Mississippians and Tobacco. He says that days like World No Smoking Day can help people quit their addictions.
“It increases awareness of the importance of trying to quit smoking, and like Mark Twain said, ‘quitting smoking is easy to do. He’s done it 20 30 times’, but every time someone tries to quit it that at least increases the likely hood that they will actually be able to quit,” said McMillan.
Smoking in Mississippi is declining but not as fast as other places.
“Well we started out with a higher rate, and since 2000 we have really started to see a lot of declines in adult smoking rates nationally, and slowly in Mississippi. The problem is Mississippi has fairly low tobacco tax, state tobacco tax,” said McMillan.
Programs targeting children have helped prevent teens from picking up tobacco products.
“When we started doing this in 1998 a third of our high school kids were cigarette smokers,” said McMillan. “We are now under 10 percent, and we have been for the last three years. We have really seen a decline in cigarette smoking. We’ve seen a decline in cigar smoking, and lately, we have started to see a decline in smokeless tobacco.”
Many local communities have created smoke-free ordinances, and researchers found those policies have come with a bonus.
“We started doing these things to protect, and one of the happy unintended consequences was that adult smokers would try to quit because it became de-normalized and inconvenient to smoke,” said McMillan.
Sometimes taking the first step can be hard but one MSU student says it can be rewarding.
“Everyday people pick up tobacco, and it can affect their health in negative ways and things like that,” said Jordan Darensbourg. “If you put down the tobacco and you stop the addiction maybe you’ll open yourself up to a new world of different opportunities.
McMillen says that if you are interested in seeking help in quitting smoking you can call 1-800-QUITNOW.