Mississippi's 2018 legislative session is officially three weeks away! It's scheduled to begin on January 2 and end on April 1. This year, the American Heart Association has two key priorities.
The first is to increase the state cigarette tax by $1.50 per pack and pass a parallel tax increase on other tobacco products. Yes, we know that's a big ask! We have joined Invest in a Healthy Future, a coalition of more than 20 health organizations leading the effort to reduce the burden of tobacco use in Mississippi through an increase in the state’s tobacco tax. We believe significantly increasing our 68-cent per pack tax will save lives, reduce health care costs and generate much-needed revenue.
In fact, a $1.50 tax increase would:
- Keep 22,800 kids from smoking
- Encourage 26,500 adults to quit smoking
- Prevent 14,000 premature smoking-related deaths
- Generate approximately $166 million in new, annual revenue for the state
- Save the state's Medicaid program $4.25 million over five years (and more than $1 billion in the long-term!
Our second priority is to develop and establish statewide STEMI and Stroke Systems of Care. We want to help STEMI (most deadly type of heart attack) and stroke patients receive the right care at the right time to ensure a better chance of survival. We urge decision makers to enact statewide standards for the formal recognition of STEMI and stroke facility designations and the development of transport protocols, as well as formally enact statewide standards for the development of STEMI and stroke registries.
Stay tuned for You're the Cure emails and text messages inviting you to speak up for these policy efforts via email, social media and even in-person! Your voice - and heart - can truly influence lawmakers and change policies to protect and improve the health of our state.