Mississippi Session Update: Week 5

We have just completed WEEK 5 of the Mississippi Legislative Session. All lawmakers will be traveling to Jackson every week to work on policy that they fill is important to our state. I encourage you to PLEASE help educate them on what is important. If at any time you need more information on a specific issue, ple ase reach out to me and I will get you what you need. The website for the Invest in a Healthier Future, the tobacco tax coalition, has gone LIVE!


Action Needed

JOIN THE THUNDERCLAP!!!!! WE NEED YOUR VOICE on social media!!!! This is called a THUNDERCLAP! We have launched a Thunderclap campaign to complement Mississippi State Medical’s capitol day on February 15th. 

What is Thunderclap? It is a way for our tobacco tax campaign to Build Momentum and Generate Awareness by lending us your social media outlet for ONE POST on ONE DAY!!!! When you sign up at this link: http://bit.ly/2DDlf7j, a message will shoot out on your social media outlet at the same time as thousands of others that have signed up. This will keep the momentum going and bring awareness to the need to increase the cigarette tax in Mississippi!

THEN, we need you to help us reach out goal of participants. So, if you would, please copy and paste one of the posts to your Facebook page and Twitter page to help recruit! You can also send this email to your friends, family and co-workers!

  • Tobacco use is the #1 cause of preventable death in Mississippi. Help save lives, improve health and support the economy through an increase in the cigarette tax by $1.50. http://bit.ly/2DDlf7j #MSLeg #HealthyFutureMS
  • Fact: Mississippi’s current cigarette tax is the 39th LOWEST in the nation. Join me in supporting a significant cigarette tax increase. http://bit.ly/2DDlf7j #MSLeg #HealthyFutureMS
  • Proudly supporting to invest in a healthier future for Mississippi! http://bit.ly/2DDlf7j #MSLeg #HealthyFutureMS
  • Join us in urging lawmakers to raise state tobacco tax and significantly reduce smoking, especially among kids and lower-income communities. http://bit.ly/2DDlf7j #MSLeg #HealthyFutureMS

Key Dates

Thursday, February 8 - Deadline for ORIGINAL FLOOR ACTION on general bills and constitutional amendments originating in OWN House. Also, WEAR RED DAY AT THE CAPITOL is Thursday, February 8th! If you are able, please be on the 3rd floor of the State Capitol no later than 9:40 wearing your RED!

Campaign Updates

State Legislative Campaigns


Increase the state cigarette tax by $1.50 with Other Tobacco Products (OTP) parity by 2020. The state’s cigarette tax is currently at 68 cents – ranked 39th.
As you know, the Invest in a Healthier Future coalition has been working for several months on developing resources, meeting with lawmakers and influencers on this issue. Because this is a revenue bill, it will require a 3/5 by the membership, as opposed to a general bill which only requires a simple majority. So, this will be that much more difficult to move through
the process. Knowing this, your voice is that much more important.

Senate Bill 2230 – Increase cigarette tax by $1.50 per pack with revenue going to the general fund.
SPONSOR: Senator Willie Simmons (Bolivar, Sunflower, Tallahatchie) | Assigned to Senate Finance Committee
Senate Bill 2445 – Increase the cigarette tax by $1.50 per pack with revenue going to the general fund.
SPONSOR: Senator Bob Dearing (Adams, Amite, Franklin, Pike) | Assigned to Senate Finance
Senate Bill 2701 – Increase the cigarette tax by $1.50 per pack with revenue creating the Medicaid Program Tobacco Cessation Fund
SPONSOR: Senator Brice Wiggins (Jackson County) Senate Medicaid Committee Chair | Assigned to Senate Finance and Senate Medicaid
House Bill 1478 – Increase the cigarette tax by $1.00 per pack, a tobacco equity tax on non-settling manufacturers, and a tax rate of 15% on other tobacco products.
SPONSOR: Representative Jeff Smith (Lowdnes, Monroe) | Assigned to House Ways and Means

House Bill 906 – Cigarette Equity Tax – right now, all cigarettes are not taxed at the same rate because of the Tobacco Master Settlement. This will bring all cigarettes to an
equally taxed level
SPONSOR: Representative Jeff Smith (Lowdnes, Monroe) | Assigned to House Ways and Means | DIED AT COMMITTEE REPORT DEADLINE


House Bill 955 – A bill to abolish certain inactive boards, commissions, councils, committees and authorities.

Included in this bill was the Tobacco Control Advisory Council and the EMS Advisory Council. Both of these councils are active councils. It was stated by the bill sponsor, that there was no
reporting on file at the Secretary of State’s office. Neither of these councils are required to report to the Secretary of State’s office because they do not promulgate rules. As such, advocates worked to have the language amended to take these out of the bill.
SPONSOR: Representative Robert Foster (DeSoto County) | Assigned to the Accountability, Efficiency, Transparency Committee
Bill was amended on the Floor and passed 118-0

TOBACCO CONTROL FUNDING: There is a possibility that budget cuts could be made to the state’s tobacco education program. The appropriations made to this program are directly from
the state’s healthcare trust fund that was set up as a result of the Tobacco Lawsuit Settlement in 1998. The American Heart Association and other partners work extremely closely with the Office of Tobacco Control and will work to ensure that these appropriation dollars remain intact. Appropriation dollars are not dealt with until later in the session.
TOBACCO 21: An issue that is newer to the tobacco arena is increasing the purchasing age of tobacco products from 18 to 21. While this issue has not yet gained traction in Mississippi,
there are around 100 local municipalities across the country that have adopted this policy, as well as the state of Hawaii.

Why 21? Evidence shows that nicotine dependence and smoking intensity are strongly correlated with younger ages of smoking initiation. In other words, the younger people are when
they smoke their first cigarette, the more likely they will be a smoker for life. Furthermore, some research suggests that adolescent smokers may experience more difficulty in quitting compared with adult smokers We don’t expect these bills to move through the process, but it will allow an opportunity for conversation to begin to educate lawmakers on the issue. So, when the time is right, we will have that much more of a chance.

House Bill 140 – Increases the age of purchase for cigarettes to 21
SPONSOR: Rep. Bryant Clark (Attala, Holmes, Yazoo) | Assigned to House Drug Policy Committee
House Bill 835 – Increases the age of purchase for cigarettes to 21
SPONSOR: Rep. Deborah Dixon (Hinds, Warren, Yazoo) | Assigned to House Ways and Means
- Was brought up for discussion and a vote on Thursday, January 25 – with a voice vote, the motion to pass it out of committee failed. At this moment, this is not a viable issue and was a bit of a surprise that it was brought up for a vote.


Representative Bryant Clark has introduced a statewide Smokefree bill. This is a comprehensive bill that includes all workplaces, including gaming facilities. While this is a priority issue for the AHA, it is not a priority issue for the 2018 legislative session. We have our hands full with the tobacco tax campaign. However, if the opportunity arises to educate members or to move this bill forward, we will take it!
House Bill 142 – Rep. Bryant Clark (Attala, Holmes, Yazoo) | Assigned to House Public Health and Welfare

State Regulatory Campaigns

STEMI Facility Designation:

Enact statewide standards for the formal recognition of STEMI facility designations and the development and implementation of transport protocols for STEMI patients in accordance with AHA criteria.

STEMI Registries:

Enact statewide standards for the development and utilization of STEMI registries in accordance with AHA criteria for support.
· We are working closely with the Mississippi State Department of Health, STEMI Advisory Council and the Mississippi Healthcare Alliance on developing these standards. We are
expecting a vote by the Mississippi State Board of Health on most of the guideline at the April Board Meeting.

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