The Clarion-Ledger, 3/20/9

Negotiations to raise Mississippi’s cigarette tax will continue next week.

State lawmakers on Thursday appeared to reach a tentative agreement on how to use revenue from a possible tax hike. But they’re still far apart on how high the current 18-cent tax should be raised.

Senate negotiators offered to add six cents to the 49-cent tax that cleared their chamber earlier, making the total tax 55 cents.

They also consented to sending some of the revenue to smoking cessation programs, as House negotiators have requested.

House negotiators said they would not accept the 55-cent tax because it would not generate enough revenue and do little to stop people from smoking. The House has approved an 82-cent increase.