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Tobacco tax dies in House committee

photo courtesy of telesouth communications inc.

While the use of tobacco products remains the number one cause of preventable death in Mississippi, a broadly supported policy to create a $1.50 per pack cigarette tax increase will not move forward this year. Supporters of Senate Bill 3048 voiced disappointment that the policy was not acted on during the 2018 Legislative process, but remain encouraged by the discussion it garnered this year.

The American Heart Association, worked with Mississippi lawmakers to support the proposed increase.

RELATED: Tobacco tax may rise to $2.18

“We saw strong support for a state cigarette tax increase, across party lines and from a surge of diverse organizations – people are getting behind this to say it’s the right thing to do,” said Katherine Bryant, Senior Director, Government Relations and Advocacy, American Heart Association. “We’re disappointed this won’t be the year for this policy to start benefitting Mississippi’s health and economy, but we will push on feeling hopeful and grateful for the attention and discussion it received.”

Mississippi’s current cigarette tax is 68 cents per pack, last raised in 2009, and is the 39th lowest among all states and DC. The average state cigarette tax is currently $1.72. Raising cigarette prices through state tobacco tax increases is shown to significantly reduce smoking, especially among kids and lower-income communities.

RELATED: Lawmaker: Increasing tobacco tax increases health outcomes

According to the Invest in a Healthier Future coalition, the proposed Mississippi cigarette tax increase has the potential to prevent 14,000 premature smoking-related deaths, prevent 22,800 children from becoming adult smokers, and to help 26,500 current adult smokers quit. The tax also has the potential for big revenue, as well as reducing the cost of healthcare and increasing worker productivity across the state.

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