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Tobacco Tax in Mississippi

The Issue

Mississippi’s cigarette tax is 68 cents per pack, ranking it 40th in the nation, contributing to the state’s very high adult smoking rate and low life expectancy. The average state cigarette tax is $1.79 per pack.

A significant increase in tobacco excise taxes reduces tobacco use, saves lives, raises revenue for states and communities, and lowers health care costs. The taxes are a political win because polling consistently shows they are popular with voters as evidenced by results from the latest poll, which show solid support throughout Mississippi for a tobacco tax increase, with every region showing support ranging between 67-78 percent, and overall state support at 73 percent in favor. The poll also found that a majority of smokers in Mississippi support the $1.50 per pack increase.

Every state that has increased its cigarette tax by a significant amount has enjoyed a substantial increase in revenue, despite ongoing and tax-specific smoking declines and any ongoing or increased tax evasion. And the 2014 Surgeon General’s report stated, “The evidence is sufficient to conclude that increases in the prices of tobacco products, including those resulting from excise tax increases, prevent initiation of tobacco use, promote cessation, and reduce the prevalence and intensity of tobacco use among youth and adults.”

Smoking kills an estimated 5,400 in Mississippians annually, and 1,400 children under 18 become new daily smokers each year, according to the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids. Smoking costs the state $1.23 billion in direct health care costs, including $319.7 million in Medicaid costs every year. Additionally, Mississippi annually experiences $1.8 billion in productivity losses because of tobacco use. Meanwhile, the state spends just $8.4 million on tobacco prevention and cessation annually, far below funding levels recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As a member of the Invest in a Healthier Future Coalition, the American Heart Association is leading the effort to reduce the preventable death and chronic disease of tobacco use in Mississippi through an increase of $1.50 per pack on the state’s cigarette tax.

The Association Advocates

The American Heart Association urges the Mississippi Legislature to increase the state's cigarette tax by $1.50 per pack. As the AHA works towards an end to tobacco and nicotine addiction, it is imperative that tobacco tax revenue be dedicated to programs and services that help people quit and keep kids from ever starting.

Resources

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