Smokers could still see an increase in tax on their cigarettes in Mississippi.
Senate Bill 3048, introduced by Senator Joey Fillingane, is a bond bill to authorize general obligations bonds for capital improvements in communities, junior colleges and state universities that has moved to the House Ways and Means committee.
One part of the bill includes funding from an imposed tax increase on cigarettes.
"There is hereby imposed, levied and assessed, to be collected and paid as hereinafter provided in this chapter, an excise tax on each person or dealer in cigarettes, cigars, stogies, snuff, chewing tobacco, and smoking tobacco, or substitutes therefor, upon the sale, use, consumption, handling or distribution in the State of Mississippi, as follows:
(a) On cigarettes, the rate of tax shall be Three and Four-tenths Cents (3.4¢) on each cigarette sold with a maximum length of one hundred twenty (120) millimeters; any cigarette in excess of this length shall be taxed as if it were two (2) or more cigarettes.
According to Tobacco Free Kids, Mississippi has one of the lowest state cigarette tax rates at 68-cents. Currently, 35 states have rates of $1.00 per pack or higher, with the state average sitting at $1.72 per pack.
At Mak's in Jones County, several people told WDAM they did not believe an increase on cigarettes would deter people from smoking. However, research has shown a decrease in use when costs go up.
Smokers: Would an increase in the state’s cigarette tax deter you from smoking?— Melissa Egan (@_MelissaEgan) March 9, 2018
Mississippi earned an "F" grade in every category in the American Lung Association's "State of Tobacco Control," released earlier this year. That includes poor scores in tobacco taxes, tobacco prevention and cessation funding, and smokefree air.
The report states 5,410 deaths were attributable to smoking last year in Mississippi, with smoking having an economic cost of $1,236,940,761.