Mississippi Tobacco Tax Hits Skids

Proposed cigarette tax would hurt state’s convenience retailers.

With just a few days in the 2018 regular session, an effort by Mississippi lawmakers to raise tobacco taxes is almost dead.

Senate Bill 3048, which could have been used to raise taxes, died when the House Ways and Means Committee didn’t take it up before a recent deadline.

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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. At one point in mid-March the proposed tobacco tax had appeared to be picking up steam.

Mississippians reportedly support a tobacco tax over any other proposed tax, according to a survey from the Mississippi State University’s Social Science Research Center. A $1.50 per pack tax on cigarettes would generate $166 million a year. An increased cigarette tax results in decreased smoking. At the $1.50 rate, 26,500 adult smokers would quit the habit and nearly 23,000 kids would never start smoking, some health advocates in the state are projecting.

Mississippi’s current 68-cents-per-pack tax is well below the national average of $1.72 per pack. Raising the state tax by $1.50 per pack would adversely impact local convenience retailers, Mississippi business groups predict.