Public Health Groups Call to Protect Right to Breathe Clean, Smoke-free Air

Statement in Response to the Recent Decision to Repeal Smoke-free Policy Protecting State Prisons

January 14, 2021

JACKSON, MS – January 14, 2021 – The Mississippi Department of Corrections recently announced their decision to lift the policy that prohibits smoking inside prisons beginning  February 1, 2021. The below statement is on behalf of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Lung Association, American Heart Association and The Partnership for a Healthy Mississippi in response.

“We’re disappointed by the recent decision to nullify lifesaving policy that has protected people who are incarcerated, as well as staff, from the dangers of smoking and secondhand smoke for over a decade. The leading cause of preventable death, smoking is a proven risk factor for developing cancer, heart disease and other diseases – and additionally puts people at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

“Research also shows there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke and only smoke-free laws provide effective protection its dangers. The right to breathe clean, smoke-free air has never been as important as it is today.

“Now is the time decision makers should be doing everything in their power to protect the health of individuals who are incarcerated– not compromising it. Rather than increasing exposure to these deadly products, policymakers should be providing tobacco cessation services to help those who are incarcerated quit and leading state efforts for such programs.”


The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) is making cancer a top priority for public officials and candidates at the federal, state and local levels. ACS CAN empowers advocates across the country to make their voices heard and influence evidence-based public policy change as well as legislative and regulatory solutions that will reduce the cancer burden. As the American Cancer Society's nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate, ACS CAN is critical to the fight for a world without cancer. For more information, visit

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