This year two bills were submitted to legislature in the Senate to up the current cigarette tax. One was authored by Sen. Wiggins, SB 2701 with the motive of improving residents health thus lowering medical costs in the long run. The second was part of a bond bill authored by Sen. Fillingane, SB 3048, and listed in the code sections (meaning there is no actual cigarette tax language in the bill itself).
The tax would have raised a pack of cigarettes $1.50. The proposal was worked on by lawmakers and the Mississippi Heart Association.
Mississippi has not raised the tobacco tax since 2009. It is currently listed as $.68 a pack, the 39th lowest tobacco tax in the United States.
“If it was only about the revenue you would never see that bill from me. But it’s about the health problems smoking can cause and when people aren’t smoking it improves health. The money isn’t going to the general fund, it’s going to the Medicaid program. My concern is with the escalating costs of Medicaid and this is something we can do to help control that,” said Wiggins.
Wiggins bill was killed in February, leaving the bond bill as the last ditch effort to up the tax, it failed on Tuesday after it did not make it to the House floor in time to pass the deadline.