Wednesday, April 4, 2007
The Legislature passed SB 2764, reorganizing the State Board of Health following Clarion-Ledger reports of broad failures and relentless attacks upon board Director Dr. Brian Amy by Sen. Alan Nunnelee. After reforming the disparaged board, legislators then put the state's next tobacco-cessation effort under the Health Department.
Gov. Haley Barbour, a former tobacco lobbyist, embroiled the smoking-cessation program The Partnership for a Healthy Mississippi in a court battle that essentially killed it when Jackson County Chancery Judge Jaye Bradley vacated her December, 2000, order directing $20 million in tobacco settlement proceeds to the organization. This session, the Legislature fought back, approving $20 million for the new Office of Tobacco Control under the State Board of Health, though Barbour has not yet signed this bill.
Former Attorney General Mike Moore mocked the idea of tying the state's cessation program into an agency plagued by widely publicized failure and political controversy.
"Come on, man. They can't even inspect restaurants," Moore said after a March 26 argument before the Mississippi Supreme Court.