During the 2018 Mississippi legislative session, the American Heart Association and fellow members of the Invest in a Healthier Future coalition will urge lawmakers to pass a $1.50 per pack cigarette tax increase and an equivalent increase on other tobacco products, in an effort to reduce the burden of tobacco in the state.
In preparation for session, Invest in a Healthier Future held a two-hour training for advocates at the Mississippi State Medical Association in Ridgeland. Approximately 20 people attended and heard from staff from the American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, and the Mississippi State Medical Association.
Attendees learned the history of the tobacco tax in Mississippi; some lessons learned from Louisiana’s 2015 tobacco tax campaign; and the benefits of a significant tobacco tax increase. Some interesting facts discussed were:
- Cigarettes are taxed differently than other tobacco products. Right now, cigarettes are taxed at 68-cents per pack. And the wholesale tax on other tobacco products are taxed at a lower rate, making them an appealing alternative for price-sensitive consumers, such as youth.
- Tobacco use is financially costing the state. Tobacco-related illnesses cost the state $1.23 billion in direct health care costs, including $319.7 million in Medicaid costs. We can reduce the financial toll tobacco is taking in our state by increasing the cigarette tax by $1.50 per pack to generate $166.8 million in new revenue, as well as to provide $1.01 billion in long-term health care cost savings from adult and youth smoking declines.
- Raising the price of tobacco products is the single most effective way to reduce smoking and other tobacco use, especially among kids. A $1.50 cigarette tax increase would reduce youth smoking by 16.9% and prevent 22,800 kids under 18 from becoming adult smokers. We know that 95 percent of adult smokers began smoking before age 18. The longer we can keep our youth from experimenting with tobacco products, the better.
For the health of our state, we invite you to join us in advocating for a tobacco tax increase!