There are a few bills before lawmakers this session that would raise the cigarette tax with hopes of encouraging better public health.
Authored by Senator Brice Wiggins is SB 270, which is a cigarette tax increase aimed to help the Medicaid program deficit since annual health care expenditures in Mississippi directly caused by tobacco use are $1.23 billion. The money collected from this tax would go straight to Medicaid.
SB 2230 authored by Sen. Willie Simmons would increase the tax on cigarettes by just over $.10 per cigarette.
Lastly, Sen. Jeff Smith submitted HB 906 that would increase the cigarette tax on those made by non-settling manufacturers to $.3 per cigarette as of July 1, 2018.
Right now, cigarettes sold in the state of Mississippi is $.68 per pack, which is 39th among all states including DC. The projected annual revenue from increasing the cigarette ta by $1.50 a pack would be $166.81 million.
According to the Cancer Action Network, projected public health benefits for Mississippi from a cigarette tax of at least $1.50 would include:
- 16.9% decrease in youth smoking
- 22,800 youth kept from becoming adult smokers
- 26,500 current smokers would quit
- $11.9 million saved from fewer smoking-caused heart attacks and strokes after 5 years
- $4.25 million saved for the states Medicaid Program in 5 years
- $1.01 billion long-term health care cost savings from adult and youth smoking declines
However, small tax increase amounts do not produce significant public health benefits or cost savings because the cigarette companies can easily offset their impact. Splitting a tax rate will increase into separate, smaller increases in successive years will similarly diminish or eliminate the public health benefits and related cost savings.
An estimated 5,400 deaths are caused by smoking in Mississippi each year and even 15.2% of high school students smoke. 1,800 kinds under 18 becoming new smokers each year.